" Holiday, celebrate"
“So many countries, so many customs” as the saying goes, and of course this is also true for Christmas. Countries and nations are different in celebration habits, time and process. Not everyone’s decorating the Christmas tree at the same time or turn over the gifts. It is no different in Hungary, the festive mood is pervading everyone since beginning of December. In following we will look at how to develop the last month of the year for the Hungarians.
The first feast in the month is the Mikulás Day.“The Hungarian Santa, called Mikulás, visits children on December 6th, St. Nicholas' Day, which is the name day of "Mikulás." Children put boots in the windows. If the child has been good, Mikulás leaves the boot filled with goodies traditionally with candies, tangerines, walnuts, apples, dates, chocolate wrapped in red paper and chocolate Mikulás figurines. He cannot be seen because he arrives in the middle of the night when good little children are already fast asleep.There is no Mrs. Mikulas in Hungary. Mikulás often comes with an assistant: a "Krampusz", a Devil, who punishes bad children, so you'd better not try to stay up so late, otherwise he won't give you any presents, only a birch stick (virgács)
The holiday season starts with Advent. Advent wreaths can be seen in stores, schools, offices, and in almost every home. This time of year is the preparation for Christmas. Candles are decorated with red and gold ribbons symbolizing life and brightness. Most children get Advent calendars with a small gift or candy for every day before Christmas. Lights and decoration, however, stay inside the houses, which are not decorated as they are in the US.
In Hungary, Christmas Eve is very important and is called 'Szent-este' which means Holy Evening. The Hungarian Christmas celebration begins on Christmas Eve. Most shops and public transportation close down at noon. The tree is decorated on Christmas Eve, never before, and the presents are placed under it. Most families decorate the tree together, but some families keep the older tradition that the tree should be a surprise for children, who even believe it was bought by angels. After dinner the tree is lit and the gifts are exchanged. Children enter the room only when the small tree bells ring and music arises. The family assembles around the tree and a short prayer is said. Then the gifts are passed out. On Holy Night, Hungarians listen to holiday songs such as "Silent Night" and sing or attend Christmas mass. They also burn candles on the Advent wreath during the four weeks before Christmas.
The main Christmas meal, which is also eaten on Christmas Eve, consists of fish and cabbage and a special kind of poppy bread/cake called 'Beigli'. Gingerbread is also a traditionally eaten at Christmas in Hungary. The gingerbread is often wrapped in very bright colours and decorated with Christmas figures.The Midnight Mass service is very popular in Hungary. Most people go to Church after their Christmas meal. On Christmas Day people visit their families.