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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Hungary, Lesson 1 - New Year's Day
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Hungary Series at HungarianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Hungarian holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 1. New Year's Day. In Hungarian, this is újév napja.
In this lesson we’ll be discussing a few examples of Hungarian traditions and rituals related to New Year's Eve, called the Day of Sylvester or szilveszter. This is a time of relaxation after the intimate Christmas holiday, which is usually celebrated within the family. Do you have the chilled bubbly in the fridge? Is the traditional lentil soup ready? Ok, then let’s get on with it!
While we’re on the topic of lentils, do you know the answer to this question?
What is the secret behind the tradition of eating lentils - lencse on New Year's Day?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
December 31 is the last day of the year, and in Hungary, it is the name-day of people called Sylvester. People start preparations during the afternoon of the 31st for the New Year's Eve celebrations that are held that night. Trumpets, horns, confetti and fireworks vendors all line the streets, making it quite the festive atmosphere. Most people go to house parties, but lots of restaurants also offer New Year's parties as well. When the clock strikes 12, everybody remains quiet and stands at attention while listening to the Hungarian National Anthem, in Hungarian Magyar Himnusz.
Moving on from the modern New Year's parties of the cities, let's take a look at what goes on in the countryside to learn something about traditional customs aimed at bringing good health, wealth, happiness and good luck to the next year. On New Year's Day in Hungary, one is not allowed to eat poultry and fish. This is because of the local belief that chickens bury our good luck and fish will swim away with it. In contrast, pigs dig the luck out, so eating pork on New Year’s is thought to bring you good luck for the rest of the year. Taking out or throwing anything from the house away is also thought to bring bad luck, because wealth and good luck are believed to leave the house along with it. Even throwing out trash is forbidden! Strudel or rétes is typically baked as well, because the dish is associated with a life as long as the stretched sheets of strudel dough.
When it comes to good luck and happiness for the new year, Hungarians do not leave anything to chance. Another thing they do for the sake of good luck is give small gifts to each other that are thought to bring good luck to the receiver of the gift. Four-leaf clovers are well-known as charms for good luck, as well as the so called "good-luck piglet." Chimney-sweepers are also believed to sweep bad luck out of one’s life. If one has done all the above-mentioned tasks, there is nothing left to stop the coming of a perfect New Year! In Hungarian, I wish you Happy New Year is Boldog új évet kívánok! – or as abbreviated in Hungarian, "B.ú.é.k.!"
But beware! In Hungary, use of fireworks, or tűzijátékok, and fire crackers, or petárdák, is only permitted during New Year's Eve; using such devices at any other time is illegal, and heavy penalties may apply!
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What is the secret behind the tradition of eating lentils on New Year's Day?
The shape of the lentil – in accordance with traditional beliefs – is also the symbol of money. It is thought that the more lentils you eat on New Year's Day, the richer you will become in the coming year.
Did you like this lesson? Did you learn something interesting?
How do you celebrate New Year's in your country?
Leave us your comments at HungarianPod101.com, and we'll see you in the next lesson.

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How do you celebrate New Year's in your country?