Christmas in Hungary is a huge celebration and like most of Europe’s they fill the season with their own unique traditions, here are a few of the biggest events.
Gift Giving and Santa
In comparison to most countries the gift-giving begins relatively early in Hungary, Santa Claus delivers gifts for children on the 5th of December.
This night is known as Mikulás and involves the children of Hungary placing their boots or shoes on a windowsill to be filled with small gifts when Santa arrives.
This is followed by a family meal the following day, known as Saint Nicholas Feast Day.
From this day onwards the countdown to Christmas is represented by the lighting of four candles atop an advent wreath each day, with of the four candles representing faith, hope, joy, and love.
In the middle of the Christmas countdown is Hungary’s Winter Solstice, an event known as Luca day.
The most famous tradition of this day is the carving a ‘Luca chair’, a chair that was originally supposed to give the user a vantage point at the Mass to spot witches in the crowd but now is used as a fun family activity.
Luca Love Spells
One of the more obscure traditions is the Luca Love spells, this involves an unmarried woman writing the names of twelve men on scraps of paper and burning one scrap per-day in the run-up to Christmas.
The last name burned is believed to be the name of her future husband.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Dinner
In addition to these traditions Hungary has adopted some of the western traditions and most families will decorate a Xmas tree in the run-up to Christmas and place presents underneath it on Christmas Eve.
The Christmas meal usually consists of fish dishes, starting with fish soup and then fried fish and rice.
This may seem strange but makes sense when you consider much of Hungary’s heritage comes from fishing.
Similarly to most of the world, Alcohol also plays a big part in Hungary’s Christmas celebrations with wine and beer being popular choices, as well as the traditional Hungarian drink Palinka.
In Hungarian Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Boldog karácsonyt’ (Happy Christmas) or ‘Kellemes karácsonyi ünnepeket’ (pleasant Christmas holidays). It is interesting to know how people wish Happy or Merry Christmas in other languages.
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Main Points About Christmas in Hungary
- Christmas eve is the most important day in the festive season; all the main celebrations take place on that day.
- Nativity scenes, Christmas trees, and other Christmas decorations are very popular in Hungary. Traditionally, the trees are not decorated until Christmas Eve.
- On Christmas eve, children are allowed to go caroling or hang out with friends. They are only allowed into the house when their parents have put their presents under the Christmas tree.
- Baking cookies is a very important tradition at Christmas. Families and loved ones come together to bake dozens of cookies.
- On Christmas day, families share a special meal of poppyseed strudel, fish, and lentils.
Christmas in Hungary is very similar to its nearby country neighbors.
St. Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6th and you typically have a special kind of fish soup, with carp, for dinner on Christmas Eve. St. Nicholas is known as ”Mikulas” and brings children gifts and so does ”baby Jesus” on Christmas Eve.
Midnight Mass, as well as gingerbread, is popular in Hungary. Want to say Merry Christmas in Hungarian? Say Boldog karacsonyi!”
Word Cloud for Christmas in Hungary
The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Christmas in Hungary. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.
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Chara Yadav holds MBA in Finance. Her goal is to simplify finance-related topics. She has worked in finance for about 25 years. She has held multiple finance and banking classes for business schools and communities. Read more at her bio page.