Hungarian Christmas traditions are many and turn Christmas into a distinctive and meaningful time to experience with family and close friends. In Hungary, Christmas suggests time to be together with all the loved ones. This is mostly a family celebration, and despite the fact that a few of these practices have actually lost significance over time, there are still countless Hungarians who keep them with pride every single December.
Hungarian Christmas begins along with the celebration of Advent (planning time before Christmas). Advent sets off four Sundays prior to Christmas, at this time families beautify their own front yards and dining tables with precious wreaths decorated with four candle lights. Each and every Sunday before Christmas they light 1 new candle and the final one is lit on Christmas Eve. You can easily find shiny wreaths in every Hungarian household, likewise in stores and educational institutions.
Many Hungarian kids are given an advent calendar at the beginning of the month. These calendars usually come with a very small window for each day during Advent so small children can open one door per day to discover a Christmas image along with a chocolate candy.
On December 6th Hungarians commemorate the day of St. Nicholas (St. Mikulás). St. Nicholas is the Hungarian variation of Santa Claus. On this Day, St Nicholas visits youngsters at family homes and at kindergartens and primary schools. At households young children wait for Mikulás by placing their clean and shiny boots at the window the evening of December 5th. If children have actually been good throughout the year, St Nicholas packs their boots with goodies, candies, mandarins, nuts and simple presents for instance toys and books. Obviously if kids happened to misbehave lately they receive in their boots some delicacies together with a willow switch (virgács) as an indication of admonishing.
At homes where there are young kids, commonly a family close friend dresses up like Mikulás and delivers the gifts to toddlers. When Mikulás arrives, they sing melodies or tell poems to him. Mikulás praises them for the great deeds and calls them off for their mischievousness. Giving gifts is the last element of St. Mikulás visit, just before departing.
In Hungary, the Christmas tree is embellished upon the holy evening (December 24). That is why you don’t encounter Christmas trees in Hungarian homes before December 24th.
Christmas Eve (Holy Night “Szent-este” in Hungarian) is among the most significant event of Hungarian Christmas practices. On this day Hungarians remember the nativity of Jesus Christ. Within the afternoon of December 24th family members join up to decorate the Christmas tree, to indulge in a nice dinner together having a good time and give each other presents.
For a great number of Hungarian families this might be truly the only time over the entire year when a whole family come together. This evening is really significant that and even public transportation stops at 4 pm for the rest of the evening, thus vehicle operators may go to join their families as well to celebrate.
If there are small children within the family, the Christmas tree is adorned without their attention.
Christmas trees are typically decorated with lights, sparkles (I confess that I don’t like the sparks in the tree, the smell is very strong inside the house) handmade ornaments, gingerbread figurines and with “szaloncukor”, a Hungarian Christmas candy coated with chocolate and wrapped in metallic, gold and red sparkling paper laced with bows. Szaloncukors embellish the Christmas tree and guests visitors are invited to take and eat them.
Hungarian children are taught that it is baby Jesus (Jeszuska) who brings the decorated tree and the presents for all on Christmas Eve and not Santa Claus as in lots of many other nations. Traditionally, by the afternoon of Christmas Eve while grown ups in secret install the Christmas tree, the children are not allowed to enter the room where the Christmas tree may be set up. They keep entertained anywhere else at home or taken for a short walk by grandparents or older siblings to a park or to see the city’s Christmas lights.
My in-laws keep this great custom and all youngsters inside our family become absolutely thrilled about baby Jesus delivering in secret the tree and gift items. In our family, when the tree is ready, a tiny|a little bell is played as an alert that baby Jesus has delivered the tree and presents. When children hear it, they run with enthusiasm to search for the presents. When children spot the tree they sing typical Hungarian Christmas carols right after we give away presents.
When all of the excitement around the Christmas tree has passed we move to the dinning table that is wonderfully arranged for an authentic Hungarian Christmas dinner.
A genuine Hungarian Christmas dinner normally consists of fish soup, fried fish, turkey, filled cabbage and beigli (an authentic wintertime pastry stuffed with poppy seeds or chestnuts filling). A range of Hungarian wines compliment the celebration. Needless to say, there are still various additions to the dinner.
At midnight, many religious families go to the Holy Night mass to religiously commemorate the arrival of baby Jesus with traditional Christmas carols plus the conventional Christian mass. During December 25 and 26 |it is actually a to pay a visit to relatives and good friends and have a good time enjoying Christmas dishes and desserts.
Christmas is a magic time everywhere around the globe and Hungary is not the exception. Hungarians try to maintain their Christmas traditions by embellishing their homes, featuring Christmas markets where you come across all kinds of self prepared ornaments, special Hungarian food and authentic handmade Christmas crafts.