Published: July 31 2023
Hungary, a country in Central Europe known for its rich culture and unique traditions, offers a unique approach to birthday celebrations as well. A Hungarian birthday is a joyful occasion with a blend of age-old customs, modern elements, and traces of influence from western birthday manners. This includes the birthday song, unique name day celebrations, reception of presents, and a prevalent custom of not wishing Happy Birthday before the actual day. Let's dive in.
The Hungarian Birthday Song
One of the identifying factors of a Hungarian birthday is the traditional birthday song. Bearing a striking contrast to the familiar melody of the Happy Birthday song well-known worldwide, the Hungarian birthday song is called 'Boldog születésnapot' which translates to Happy Birthday. The essence of the song is the same, with lines expressing happiness for the birthday person and well-wishing in the coming years. This song is typically sung when the birthday cake, often adorned with as many candles as the years being celebrated, is brought forth.
Name Day Celebration
Something exceptionally characteristic about Hungarian birthdays is their additional 'name day' celebration. Hungary abides by a tradition of assigning certain names to every day of the calendar, and people also ceremoniously celebrate the day corresponding to their given name. Significant like birthdays, this day is marked with parties, gifts, and frequent visits from friends and family.
The Reception of Presents
As in many cultures, gifts are a big part of Hungarian birthday celebrations. Similar to most parts of the world, friends and family shower the birthday celebrant with gifts. These presents are usually opened in the presence of the guests, who often revel in the display of expressions from the birthday person on receiving gifts. Along with tangible presents, flowers also form common gifts, primarily given to females.
A noteworthy etiquette running strong in the Hungarian culture is to never wish someone 'Happy Birthday' before the actual day. It's considered bad luck. Whereas in many cultures people might start celebrating or getting birthday wishes a few days early, in Hungary, it's a strict no-no. You wait for the actual day to wish and celebrate.
Sumptuous Hungarian Feast
No celebration is complete without a feast, and a Hungarian birthday is no different. The guests enjoy a wide array of Hungarian delicacies. Goulash soup, stuffed peppers, and layered cabbage (Rakott Kaposzta) often grace the table. Cakes like Dobos Torta (a sponge cake layered with chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel) and Kremes (a creamy, custard-filled delight), are popular desserts during such festivities.
In conclusion, Hungarian birthdays are a beautiful mix of traditional customs and universal celebratory elements. If you ever find yourself invited to a Hungarian birthday, remember to sing along to 'Boldog születésnapot', respect the birthday etiquettes, join in the feast, and participate fully in the dual joys of birthday and name day celebrations!