hungarian wedding tradition
Photo: MTI/Komka Péter

There is no wedding like a Hungarian wedding. Traditional Hungarian food on the table, good wine and pálinka literally flowing everywhere, and people have a great time. However, if you are not Hungarian, and you are about to marry one, here are a few wedding traditions to prepare for.

In our previous article On dating Hungarians, you could read about the three crucial things to consider when dating a Hungarian: (1) be prepared for a dry, sarcastic sense of humour and a somewhat cynical worldview, (2) be careful with your compliments, and (3) avoid unnecessary and superfluous gifts. The three characteristics specified in the previous article still stand, but there are a few additional things to consider too.

Unique wedding traditions

Each nation has its own unique wedding traditions that definitely seem weird to outsiders. Hungary is no exception.

Bride kidnapping

In Hungary, it is a custom to “kidnap” the bride. This means that the families’ younger friends take away the bride to a party or a bar and would not take her back until the groom “paid a ransom”. This is not a particularly safe tradition, and accidents have happened in the past. During one of these kidnappings, a bride was dropped and suffered serious injuries, having to be taken to a hospital.

Candlelight waltz

The gyertyafénykeringő [candlelight waltz] is a way for the bride to say goodbye to her white dress. She dances one last dance with the groom in the dress, while they are holding one candle in their hands. The guests gather in a big circle around the couple holding candles, which the newlyweds blow out while dancing. When all “guest candles” are blown out, the couple blows out their own candle and leaves the room to change dress.

Midnight change of dress

The bride changes dress around the stroke of midnight. The bride traditionally changes into a new dress known as the menyecske ruha [the new wife dress]. The menyecske ruha traditionally has some red in it, or it is often a mixture of red and white. This change of attire is a symbolic gesture: the bride is saying goodbye to her old life and is accepting her new life as a wife.

Coin dance and bridal dance

At a traditional Hungarian wedding, the newlyweds used to do a so-called coin dance. The couple dances while their guests gather around them and throw coins at them (well, not directly at them, but near them). At the end of the coin dance, the couple must clean the coins with a broom and a shovel. It is a rather difficult task since the guests are kicking the coins aside to make the job harder. This used to be the traditional way of gifting money to the newlyweds. Of course, nowadays, people usually go for a more modern way and give an envelope with a nice card instead. The modern version of the coin dance is the bridal dance when the bride is dancing with the guests while the best man yells “bride for sale”. During the bridal dance, the husband and the bride’s mother collect the wedding gifts (most often envelopes). The bridal dance usually happens after midnight, when the bride is changed into her menyecske ruha because it is much more comfortable.

Source: Daily News Hungary;

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