Christmas celebrations in Hungary start with the beginning of Advent. Houses, schools, offices and shops in Hungary are decorated with attractive Advent wreaths during the festival. Advent wreath candles symbolize life and brightness. Though the streets or public places are not decorated with great lighting arrangements, the houses are decorated with beautiful lights during Christmas in Hungary. Christmas parties are not so common in the country because Christmas in Hungary is a private affair.
There are some interesting facts related to the celebration of
Christmas in Hungary. People in the country do not decorate the
Christmas tree until the Holy Night. Children in the country believe
that Christmas tree is brought to them by angles. Hence, Christmas
tree is kept as a pleasant surprise for the children. The tree is
decorated with gifts. Members of the family have a joyful time
during Christmas. They sing Christmas songs and then gifts are
unwrapped. They spend the Holy Night together by singing Christmas
songs, opening gifts which are followed by the Christmas dinner that
typically consists of fish or cabbage served with a poppy-bread
called as 'beigli'. Christmas cooking is an important part
of Christmas celebrations in Hungary.
Unique folk traditions are associated with Christmas celebrations
in Hungary. Some of the folk traditions originate from the
pre-Christian era. The other customs for Christmas followed in
Hungary in the present time are either folk or religious rituals
that are related to the near future- the harvest of the next year.
However, since the last few decades, folk traditions in Hungary have
been vanishing from the real life. These traditions can be seen only
in small villages sporadically.
Another important day during the celebration of Christmas in Hungary is December 13th, the day of Luca, in which people engage
themselves in making a wooden chair which will be completed on the
Christmas Eve. According to the legend, if someone steps on this
chair in the church during the mass of Holy Night, he will be able
to identify the witch. Some poems and songs are also composed about
this unique tradition. The day of Luca is also regarded as the day
of 'love predictions'.
'Bethlehem play' is a widely popular custom for Christmas in Hungary. A few days before Christmas, a short play is performed
by groups of boys about the Holy Child. The boys go from
door-to-door with a model of the holy family. Bethlehem play is a
great literature. This Christmas tradition dates back to 1600's,
when the first document was written about the 'Bethlehem's'
groups. Some folk and non-profit groups in the country are devoted
to preserve this Christmas tradition.
In Hungary, Santa Claus is known as Mikulas, who visits children on
December 6th, St. Nicholas' Day. Children leave their boots in the
windows and hang stockings by the fireplace as they expect Mikulas
to bring gifts. If the child has been good all through the year,
Mikulas leaves the boot filled with goodies such as candies,
walnuts, apples, dates, tangerines and chocolate Mikulas figurines.
Mikulas also fills the boots and stockings with small toys and
books. On the other hand, if the child has been bad all through the
year, Mikulas fills the boots with a switch devil-figure, indicating
a beating is in order.
Christmas in Hungary is celebrated as a private affair with joy and gusto. Unique folk traditions are associated with Christmas celebrations in Hungary.