As international students start their academic journey in Hungary, they are not only welcomed into a world of rich history and diverse culture but also into the heartwarming traditions that make the holiday season truly special.
Hungary is a unique blend of customs that make Christmas a magical time, offering a glimpse into the country's culture and history.
We know that sometimes holiday season in another country, away from home can be tough, so we have prepared this guide for you to feel a bit more familiar with everything that is happening around you in December.
Advent and the Advent Wreath:
The Christmas season in Hungary officially begins with Advent, which usually starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. During this time, Hungarians light candles on the Advent wreath, symbolizing the anticipation of Christ's birth. Each candle represents a week leading up to Christmas, creating a sense of excitement and unity.
Szaloncukor - Sweet Christmas Treats:
image via femina.hu
No Hungarian Christmas is complete without Szaloncukor, a traditional sweet treat. These fondant candies, often filled with various flavors like marzipan, jelly, or chocolate, are hung on the Christmas tree.
Mikulás - Hungarian Santa Claus:
Hungary has its own version of Santa Claus, known as Mikulás. On the night of December 5th, children place their freshly polished boots on the windowsill, expecting Mikulás to fill them with treats or small gifts.
Christmas Eve - The Main Celebration:
Christmas Eve, or 'Szenteste' in Hungarian, is the highlight of the holiday season. Families gather for a festive dinner that typically includes fish soup, stuffed cabbage, and other traditional dishes. After the meal, the Christmas tree is lit, and gifts are exchanged.
Betlehemes Játék - Nativity Plays:
Nativity plays, known as Betlehemes Játék, are a cherished tradition in Hungary. These theatrical performances recount the story of the birth of Jesus Christ, often involving community members, students, and local actors.
Hungary's Christmas traditions offer international students a unique and heartwarming experience, blending centuries-old customs with the warmth of community and family. These traditions not only enrich your cultural experience but also create lasting memories of a Hungarian Christmas filled with love and joy.