Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sharing the Joy: Christmas Around the World - Hungary

For St. Nicholas' day, (December 6), children put out a pair of well-cleaned shoes the night before; the understanding is that if they have been good throughout the year, in the morning the shoes will be filled with sweets and small toys or gifts. If they've not been good, they received potatoes, stones, or a wooden spoon.

The house was decorated a little more each day as Christmas drew closer: pine boughs and cards on the mantelpiece, a manger scene of cornhusk dolls from Slovakia on a side table, candles, embroidered tablecloths and runners around the living and dining rooms.

Supper on Christmas Eve begins with sauerkraut soup, very piquant with dried mushrooms and sausage (kolbasz) floating in it. And poppyseed rolls (baigli) or crepes (palacsinta) for dessert.

The Christmas tree was not put up until Christmas eve. The children were often sent into another room to play after supper, and told to "listen for the angels". In a little while, a bell would ring, and the children would come back into the room to find a beautiful Christmas tree fully decorated with the wrapped presents arranged underneath its boughs. The decorations always included "szalon cukor" a kind of wrapped fondant candy and ornaments embroidered on felt. Gifts were then opened, and the whole family went to church later for midnight mass.

In terms of Christmas carols, traditional and folk carols are sung,as well as a Hungarian version of Silent Night. Caroling in Hungarian villages was usually done between Christmas and New Year's eve. The carolers were rewarded with pastries, a little brandy, chocolates, or money.

Compiled and edited from Hungarian Christmas--A Personal Account

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  1. Wow, what a lovely post! I loved seeing the Hungarian foods and decorations. How nice to share this information in such a beautiful way.

  2. I want that Christmas Eve dinner!

  3. Can you imagine trying to get the tree up and decorated in the little time kids would stay still?!


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