Vocabulary

Learn New Words FAST with this Lesson’s Vocab Review List

Get this lesson’s key vocab, their translations and pronunciations. Sign up for your Free Lifetime Account Now and get 7 Days of Premium Access including this feature.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Hungary Lesson 2 Christmas / Holy Night
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 2. Christmas / Holy Night. In Hungarian, this is karácsony / szenteste.
There is no doubt about it: the most significant holiday in Hungary is Christmas, or in Hungarian, karácsony. The holiday is awaited in anticipation by adults and children alike. Some get excited about the gift-giving, and others simply look forward to getting some rest after the intense holiday shopping. In this lesson, we’ll take a look at how Christmas is celebrated in Hungary.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?
What is the reason behind the Hungarian custom of eating fish at Christmas, instead of poultry?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Unlike several other countries, in Hungary gifts are said to be brought not by Santa Claus, but by the baby Jesus, or Jézuska. December 24 is an official holiday, and on this day everybody is busy preparing for Christmas Eve. Many people rush to buy last-minute gifts, and every member of the family is engaged in preparing the Christmas dinner and the Christmas tree, in Hungarian called karácsonyfa.
After all the preparations are complete, families gather around the dinner table to start the formal Christmas dinner. Fish soup, called halászlé in Hungarian, fried fish, stuffed cabbage and bejgli, a rolled, glazed cake with poppy seed or chestnut filling, are some of the most common dishes. The highlight of the evening is the lighting of the Christmas tree, which announces the arrival of baby Jesus. Depending on the year, the following two days (December 25 and 26) can be official holidays, but even on years when they are not, most people take them off anyway. On Christmas Day, festivities are continued with enormous lunches and dinners, and on December 26th--also known as Boxing Day--people visit members of the family who live further away.
In the countryside, the old Christmas customs of putting on plays representing "Bethlehem", or betlehemezés, and regölés, which means “to sing folk songs”, are kept alive. During Bethlehem plays, people dressed in appropriate costumes walk from home to home re-enacting the biblical story of the birth of baby Jesus with funny dialogue. In return, members of the visited household give gifts and entertain the actors. The custom of regölésis comprised of men, generally in groups of four, walking through the streets of the village making lots of noise by shaking sticks with chains and blowing bagpipes and recorders. They wish for an abundant harvest and good luck to the farmers, who, in return, offer these men a glass of their best wine and best cake, made by the women of the household.
There is a small Hungarian village named Nagykarácsony, which literally means Large Christmas. This is the home of the Hungarian Santa Claus, called Mikulás. During Christmas this is probably the busiest post office in the country, because postcards posted here are stamped with a special Christmas stamp.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What is the reason behind the Hungarian custom of eating fish at Christmas, instead of poultry?
In accordance with old traditional folk beliefs, eating poultry at Christmas is not fortuitous because it is said that chickens will bury one’s good luck for the following year, whereas fish and fishing are the traditional Christian symbols of Jesus Christ.
Did you like this lesson? Did you learn something interesting?
Who brings Christmas gifts in your country – Santa Claus, baby Jesus, or someone else?
Leave us your comments at HungarianPod101.com, and we'll see you in the next lesson.

1 Comment

Hide
Please to leave a comment.
😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍
Sorry, please keep your comment under 800 characters. Got a complicated question? Try asking your teacher using My Teacher Messenger.
Sorry, please keep your comment under 800 characters.

HungarianPod101.com
Saturday at 6:30 pm
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Who brings Christmas gifts in your country - Santa Claus, baby Jesus, or someone else?