"Boldog Karacsonyt"! Nothing can be better than wishing a Hungarian "Merry Christmas" in his own language. Christmas in Hungary is celebrated on 25th December and the Holy evening is called as "Szent-este". Traditionally, Christmas in Hungary is celebrated till December 27th. On Christmas Eve, the Hungarians spend time with their families and decorate the Christmas tree. Gifts are hanged on or placed underneath the Christmas tree without the knowledge of the children and given to them on the Christmas morning as presents from the angels or Baby Jesus. The Christmas tree is decorated using glass ornaments or other embroidered and traditional ornaments. On December 6, kids get to meet St. Nicholas, better known as 'Mikulas' in Hungary, who comes with a sack of gifts for them. Hungarians also believe that along with Mikulas, also comes a Devil boy, in black costume with horns and tail, who holds a switch of dry twigs to beat the kids who have been naughty in that year. Sounds scary, right? Some might even find it cute or hilarious. Anyways, the following write-up tells you more about the Hungarian Christmas celebration.
Christmas Tradition in Hungary
The most significant event of the Hungarian Christmas celebration are the Nativity plays. On the Eve of Christmas, the adults or children enact the nativity scene together with puppets, songs and musical instruments. 'Bethlehem Play' is one of the traditional favorite of the Hungarians. Christmas preparation in Hungary starts a week before the main day and the excitement is manifest on the faces of the children waiting for the big night. Dinner comprises of a traditional fish soup which is normally followed by fried fish and a famous dessert of walnut and poppy-seed horseshoe, locally called "Beigli". Before the midnight mass, families, friends and relatives gather around the Christmas tree, singing carols and exchanging gifts. The midnight mass service is quite famous in Hungary and it is a common practice for the people there, to go to church after munching on their scrumptious Christmas meal. In Hungary, on December 6th, children expecting gifts from Mikulas leave out their shoes and boots on their windowsills only to find them filled with small toys, gifts and goodies, in the morning. Mikulas, like Santa, brings gifts according to the good deeds done by the kids during the year.
Christmas meal and dinner preparations begin a week ahead of the Christmas Eve. The traditional food includes items like fish soup, stuffed cabbage, fish and chips and various meats like chicken, pork or turkey along with Christmas cake, Beigli - the walnut and poppy seeds dessert, ginger bread cookies and so on. Alcoholic drinks like beer, wine and liqueur, aperitif and digestif along with various soft drinks are the traditional favorites. Christmas dinner is normally the focus during Christmas and mainly includes roast goose, red cabbage, tortes and cookies.
The above write-up, if you notice carefully, doesn't just talk about Hungarian Christmas traditions; it lays down the gist of Christmas celebrations as they are observed all over the world. It's really about the laughter than any gift or delicacy. Hope you have a fun-filled Christmas this year!
Read about Christmas and its traditions in Hungary and Hungarian Christmas customs.