Published: November 28 2023
Hungarian Christmas traditions are characterized by a blend of religious origins and influences from other nations. Each family has their own unique way of celebrating, but there are some common customs and practices that are widely observed.
The Advent season in Hungary begins on the Sunday after St Andrew's Day in late November. Many Hungarian families decorate their homes with Advent wreaths made from evergreen materials. These wreaths feature four candles, symbolizing the four weeks leading up to Christmas. The candles represent the anticipation of Jesus' birth.
The Nativity play, known as 'betlehemezés', is a popular tradition in Hungary. It is a play accompanied by singing that tells the story of Jesus' birth, including Herod's actions, Mary and Joseph's escape, and the visit of the three kings. Sometimes, a handmade nativity scene is carried from house to house. After the performance, hosts invite the actors and offer them delicious food and drinks as a token of appreciation. Nativity plays are often performed by students in Hungarian schools as a project for their parents.
Christmas Tree Decoration
The tradition of decorating Christmas trees in Hungary dates back to the 16th century. Initially, homes were adorned with cut branches, but over time, entire trees were used. Traditional decorations included candles, apples, and handmade ornaments made from wood or textiles. The widespread adoption of Christmas trees in Hungary occurred in the 19th century.
Hungarian households have their own unique Christmas meals, but there are certain staples that are present in almost every home. One popular Christmas pastry is bejgli, which comes in two flavors: poppy seeds and walnuts. Poppy seeds are believed to bring fortune, while walnuts are thought to repel malicious intentions. Another important dish is fish soup, as fish scales are believed to bring prosperity. Budapest's Christmas fairs are a great place to try Hungarian wines and sample special Hungarian drinks and meals.
Hungarian Christmas traditions are rich in history and symbolism. From Advent wreaths to Nativity plays and traditional Christmas foods, these customs add a special touch to the festive season in Hungary.
Questions & Answers
=== What is the Advent wreath and when does the Advent season start in Hungary? The Advent wreath is a tradition where Hungarian families decorate their homes with wreaths made from evergreen materials, featuring four candles symbolizing the four weeks leading up to Christmas. The Advent season starts on the Sunday after St Andrew's Day, which is the 30th of November.
What is the Nativity play in Hungary? The Nativity play, known as 'betlehemezés' in Hungarian, is a play accompanied by singing that narrates the story of Jesus' birth. It includes the actions of Herod, the escape of Mary and Joseph, and the visit of the three kings. Sometimes, a handmade nativity scene is carried from house to house. Nativity plays are common in Hungarian schools, where students work on it as a project and perform for their parents.
When did the tradition of decorating Christmas trees start in Hungary? The tradition of decorating a Christmas tree in Hungary traces back to the 16th century. Initially, people adorned their homes with cut branches, believing that evergreens ward off evil spirits and bring health and luck. Later, the practice progressed to decorating entire trees. Christmas trees became widely adopted in Hungary in the 19th century.
What are some traditional Christmas delicacies in Hungary? Some traditional Christmas delicacies in Hungary include bejgli, a Christmas pastry usually filled with poppy seeds or walnuts. Poppy seeds were believed to bring fortune, while walnuts were thought to repel malicious intentions. Another important dish is fish soup, as fish scales are believed to bring prosperity to the household.