On our Christmas tour around the world, we leave Christmas in Hong Kong, and travel Northwest for 8535 km to Hungary.
Hungary covers an area of just over 93,000 square km in Central Europe. Despite being landlocked, the country excels at water polo! They have a population of just under 10 million people with Budapest being the largest city, named after the 2 cities, Buda and Pest, that were unified in 1873.
Here are some fun facts about Hungary: it boasts the most thermal springs in the world, you can only name your child a government approved name (or apply to use a name that isn't on the list) and their alphabet has 44 letters - it's a very unique language!
How do Hungarians celebrate Christmas?
Christmas is celebrated on 25th December, although some Hungarians also celebrate Advent.
Just over half of the Hungary population are Christian, with Roman Catholics being the most predominant group.
Christmas trees are very common and are decorated on Christmas Eve, sometimes only the adults decorate the tree to surprise the children who are told that angels brought it for them.
Most smaller towns and villages have a central Christmas Tree. Common Christmas decorations are glass ornaments, traditional embroidered ornaments and other hand-made ornaments.
Most people will go to Midnight Mass after their main Christmas meal.
Presents are brought to children by ‘Jézuska’ (Jesus) who leaves them under the tree on Christmas Eve while the children wait outside the room. Once the children hear bells ringing, they know that the presents have been left and they can now enter the room to open them.
St. Nicholas (Mikulás) visits on 6th December and children will leave their shoes on a windowsill for him to fill with goodies. Télapó (Old Man Winter) may also bring gifts. Budapest has a large Christmas market that begins late November/early December where people will buy traditional gifts. Christmas Day is spent with family.
The main Christmas meal is eaten on Christmas Eve and the main dishes tend to be fish or ‘Halászle’ (soup made of carp or other freshwater fish), cabbage stuffed with rice, mince pork, onion and garlic, and ‘Beigli’ (Poppy bread/ cake) is a popular dessert. Gingerbread wrapped in colourful colours and decorated with Christmas figures is also a popular treat at Christmas time, and so are szaloncukor which are very popular sweets that are used to decorate Christmas Trees. Traditional Hungarian wine and spirits are drank with the meal.