Tag Archives: Hungary

Farsang & Busójárás

Main Text: 

Farsang & Busójárás 

Background on Informant: 

My informant is originally from Romania, specifically the Transylvania region that is intermixed with Romanian and Hungarian roots. They came to the United States at 24 and have been here since. They are very knowledgable with the cultural context of Romania and Hungary, having grown up in Szekely tradition (a subgroup of Hungarian people living in Romania). They have graciously shared with me parts of their folklore and heritage. 

Context: 

They explain: 

“Growing up in the Szekely tradition, my culture was mixed between Hungarian and Romanian, but the Hungarian customs were what my parents practiced over Romanian. 

One of the best events we celebrated was ‘Farsang’ which is kind of like a Hungarian Halloween. It starts at the beginning of January, I think the day of the Vizkereszt (Epiphany) and it ends before Easter. 

The whole event is basically like a carnival with costumes (which looking back some of the costumes we had were so funny, my parents always tried to save money so they would send us out as little clowns). There was also a parade they would hold for the children, where we would gather and winners were chosen. I won one year which was fun and I got a small cake as a reward. Speaking of eating my favorite carnival treat was the farsangi fank which are basically little fried donuts covered in powered sugar. 

It definitely is very heavily influenced from Christian traditions, but it never felt religious. It was a very fun period where we were saying goodbye to winter and welcoming in the new spring weather. 

Towards the end of Farsang, there was this celebration called the Busójárás, which lasted for six days in the town of Mohács. Men would dress up in these scary masks and ‘take over the town’ and chase people. 

The origins go something like, during the Ottoman occupation, the people were forced to flee the town and hide, and then one night after taking the advice of an elder (a šokac man), they returned to the town in scary masks, and scared the Turks away because they resembled demons. This is why the masks are so scary looking, but today instead of scaring away invaders, they symbolically ‘scare’ away the winter. 

It definitely has a lot of folk culture involved from the masks, to music, dancing, and a lot of drinking. 

Then after all of it is over, the Easter season begins and it much more conservative than Farsang, but nonetheless it was a wonderful chlildhood experience we got to see every year because my parents would take us to Mohács whenever it was held. 

They still do it today which is great and now with technology it’s very fun to see how people are still practicing the traditions of these events and the cultural influence.” 

Analysis/Thoughts: 

Growing up my mom would tell me brief stories about Farsang and some childhood pictures but I never really knew that much about the festival. This interview was definitely enlightening and I learned so much. I think it’s incredible how they have their own ‘Halloween’ which honestly probably predates it so technically we celebrate an American ‘Farsang’. I loved hearing about my interviewers experience and wishing that I could have my own Farsang stories. 

I had definitely never heard of the Busójárás and after watching videos and learning about the Turkish history behind it, I found it so interesting and fun. I love how even after all that time this tradition is still practiced and continues on. I love how much these people have embraced their cultural identities and how folklore has played a major role in preserving their histories. I think the importance of these events are meant to showcase the Hungarian pride in reminiscing about their past and to reconnect with the traditions of their heritage. It was fascinating to learn about Farsang and the Busójárás and again the constant influence of religion in most of their practices. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed learning about this piece of Hungarian history. 

Annotations: 

For visual reference: 

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-pdO9keCxgsw/TYTiRl00KwI/AAAAAAAAAWs/lM69tOk5nQQ/s1600/189471_742748499111_22004196_40028612_5871230_n.jpg

Néptánc

Main Text: 

Néptánc

Background on Informant: 

My informant is originally from Romania, specifically the Transylvania region that is intermixed with Romanian and Hungarian roots. They came to the United States at 24 and have been here since. They are very knowledgable with the cultural context of Romania and Hungary, having grown up in Szekely tradition (a subgroup of Hungarian people living in Romania). They have graciously shared with me parts of their folklore and heritage. 

Context: 

They explain: 

“In our tradition, dance is a huge part of our culture. Our version is called ‘néptánc’ or folk dance in translation. 

Where I grew up the most popular form of this dance was the csárdás, which I think is the national dance of Hungary, but we still practiced it in the Szekelyfold. 

It’s known as a courting dance and while it begins slowly by the end it is super fast paced and you need the power to be able to keep up. 

My mother enrolled me in an after school dance program, but it was normal for all of us, our parents wanted us to have strong ties to our past. We also wore traditional folk clothing which includes for me included, a vest, white button up, black trousers, and of course the long black boots (sometimes hats). 

Some kids would go on to join dance troops, but I was never that passionate about dancing. We would perform at carnivals, recitals, and during the holidays for the people in the village. 

I remember some the steps but most of I’ve forgotten, but it is still a tradition practiced today”. 

Analysis/Thoughts: 

After learning more information about Hungarian folk dancing from this interview I was fascinated by how much it remains an integral part of Hungarian culture. Even from my own experience, parents continue to enroll their kids in dance clubs that teach children these dances, as they continue the traditions of their childhoods. It is fascinating how the dance has remained the same over all these decades and centuries and how it is viewed as a performing art. 

I like how dance allows children to grow up with the culture of their parents and grandparents and so forth and serves as a connection to the past and their national culture. In order to preserve this branch of Hungarian culture, these values and ideals have continued to be passed along generations, and will continue to be so as Hungary takes great pride in establishing their connection to heritage. 

Annotations: 

For visual reference:

For more information check out:

Kurti, Laszlo. “The Ungaresca and Heyduck Music and Dance Tradition of Renaissance Europe.” The Sixteenth Century Journal, vol. 14, no. 1, 1983, pp. 63–104. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2540167. 

Házi Áldás

Main Text:

Házi Áldás 

Hol hit, ott szeretet

Hol szeretet, ott béke

How béke, ott áldás

Hol áldás, ott Isten 

Hol Isten 

Ott szükség nincsen. 

Translation: 

House Blessing 

Where there is faith, there is love

Where there is love, there is peace

Where there is peace, there is blessing

Where there is blessing, there is God

Where there is God

There is no need. 

Background about Informant: 

She was born and raised in Hungary, but moved to the United States in 1997. She is knowledgable of her roots and has lots of wisdom to share about its’ cultural traditions. She comes from a religious background in Catholicism and is experienced with Hungary Catholic practices and beliefs. 

Context: 

She explains: 

(translated)

“In Hungary, entering a household is considered scared and thus its’ sacredness is embodied in the Házi Áldás (House Blessing). It is often seen in embroidery, carved in wood, and other traditional arts. 

In bonds with Hungarian Catholicism, it is meant to serve as a list of virtues to living a pious life under God’s blessings. 

It is also a statement of wisdom that reflects familial bonds and a connection to past cultural beliefs tied with religion. 

In the past, people would hang this on the wall to preserve their faith in God. It began only being used in civic houses, but eventually it even started appearing in peasant households and farmhouses. 

The power of the text allowed people to believe that God would bless the people in the house if the text was present. It is traditionally placed in kitchens. 

Lots of people still sell them today at craft fairs and mostly to tourists.

It’s not really used as much as it was in the past and today it’s used more for decoration, than for spiritual purposes.”

Analysis: 

In my research and interview, I was able to learn more about the history behind the Házi Áldás. Having Hungarian roots myself and a Házi Áldás in my own kitchen, I’ve always wondered what its’ purpose has been. Since my informant is religious and grew up in a Hungarian Catholic household, she was very knowledge about the context behind the Házi Áldás rich history. Hungary has a history of being religious and attributing to its’ history it was no surprise that people dealt a great deal of value to such texts, but it was interesting to learn about how it shifted from civic houses to the poorer population, because even so today most of the poorer population are the ones contributing to the religious life in Hungary. 

I also found the shift from the Házi Áldás as a sacred text to now a symbol of craft and tourist souvenirs. It highlights the disconnect between Hungary’s traditional past which suffered a lot because of its’ Communism past where a lot of these traditions are not practiced or valued because of its’ censorship under particular leaders. But overall, I was very ‘blessed’ to learn about the history behind the Házi Áldás and its’ shift from a valuable text of great importance to now being found in every gift shop available, a path that many of these relics are finding themselves headed towards, opening eyes to how Hungary is trying to preserve their past. 

Annotations:

For visual references and information visit:

https://farfringe.com/stj1043-szekely-aldas/

https://i.etsystatic.com/11885944/r/il/c54015/1478550723/il_570xN.1478550723_eb1w.jpg

Easter ‘Locsolas’

Main Text: 

Hungary’s Easter ‘Locsolkodás’

Background on Informant: 

She was born and raised in Hungary, but moved to the United States in 1997. She is knowledgable of her roots and has lots of wisdom to share about its’ cultural traditions. She grew up in a religious family who practiced many Easter customs including the Easter ‘locsolas’ (‘sprinkling’)

Context: 

She explains: 

(Translated)

“During Easter (Húsvét), we have this custom called ‘locsolas’ (sprinkling).  Girls are symbolically viewed as flowers, and if they are not sprinkled they risk withering away. 

So on Easter Monday, men (dressed in traditional costumes) fill buckets with water and the girls gather in pretty traditional clothing as well and wait for the arrival of the men. 

Men also have tradition ‘sprinkling poems’ that they recite. The most popular is this one:

Zold erdobe jartam,

Kek ibolyat lattam, 

Elakart hervadni,

Szabad-e locsolni?

(Translated) 

I went to a green forest,

I saw a blue violet,

It was wilting,

Can I water it?

The girls have to agree to be ‘watered’ and then the men will ‘sprinkle’ them by dumping the buckets of water and the girls will reward them with painted eggs, desserts, and drinks. 

However, while it still happens, the buckets of water have evolved into less extreme things such as a spray of perfume or cologne. Although in the countryside they probably still stick to the buckets. 

My brother loved this holiday because he got a lot of food and chocolates, I liked it too but the water was always so cold. I used to want to get revenge and splash the boys right back. 

But as I got older, people resorted to simpler versions such as spraying perfume. 

It is one my favorite traditions because it is so simple and still practiced. It’s all in good fun” 

Analysis/Thoughts: 

Having grown up in this tradition too, it was interesting to hear a first-hand explanation of the event. For me, it’s more modern now with perfume as a simple way to continue the tradition but it was fascinating listening to my interviewers personal experiences with it.

From researching, I learned that this tradition started as far back as the 2nd century AD, and was a ritual meant to promote fertility and purification. Connecting it back with lessons in and readings studied in class, I definitely saw and was able to understand more clearly how this custom evolved. 

I like how this event is sort of a rite of passage and that it is a celebration that everyone in the culture partakes in. I also love how often many of these customs have died out or are dying out in Hungary, but this one remains a strong part of Hungary’s Easter cultural identity and is still very popular. Overall, I think it’s a wonderful traditional that can gather a community for some good fun. 

Annotations: 

For visual reference: 

Májusfa & the Május Fa Tánc

Main Text: 

Májusfa & the Május Fa Tánc 

Background on Informant: 

She was born and raised in Hungary, but moved to the United States in 1997. She is knowledgable of her roots and has lots of wisdom to share about its’ cultural traditions. Growing up her family practiced the traditions of the May tree (Májusfa) and she has shared with me her experiences with it. 

Context: 

She explains: 

(Translated) 

“On the night of May 1st every year, the boys of the town would cut down a May tree from the forest and bring it to a girls house. Usually one boy would set up the plan for the girl he liked and get the help of his friends. 

The tree was sort of a symbol of renewal and also a token of love, it was a cute tradition.

They would decorate the tree with colored ribbons of all sorts of colors — because the trees are very thin it looks like a giant mesh of confetti. Sometimes they would tie a bottle on the top as well. The trees are also very tall and I could see the top of the tree with the beautiful ribbons from the top of my fourth floor apartment. 

When the decorating was done, the boys would stay out all night until the morning to call out the girl and serenade her and often give small gifts such as flowers, jewelry, and perfume. 

It was exciting to wake up in the morning and see which girl received a May tree. I got some and was always so happy to see them, wish we had the technology of today cause then I could have some pictures to look back on.

There was also a dance associated with the event. Girls who get a tree hosts the village with food and drink, and they usually do a traditional dance with music around the tree in celebration.

The tree stays up until the last night of May, and there’s a cute saying where whoever’s tree remains green, and does not wither, then their love will last forever. 

It was quite a public announcement of courtship I will say, but because I lived in an apartment, it was a little bit more rare to receive one as it was best to have it planted in the countryside. 

It was very fun and it was funny to see how the girls became competitive with who got the prettiest tree, and you had to look out cause enemies might ruin the tree as revenge. 

Another competition was climbing the thin tree, which the boys often attempted trying to win the bottle on the top of the tree. 

The tradition is one of my favorites and is the perfect introduction to spring into summer, although I don’t think it’s been practiced as much anymore.” 

Analysis/Thoughts: 

Before this interview, I had never even heard of this tradition and was absolutely entranced after learning about it. I love how it ties into the culture of Hungary and it is quite the adorable tradition practiced. Looking at reference photos, it is almost shocking at how tall those trees are and just how extravagant people got with the decoration. I love how wholesome it is in ushering in a new season and how it has little notions of wisdom in representing young love and fortune. 

The symbolism of the tree (of rebirth and nature) and the event as a total has a rich tradition and from researching I was able to learn about the development of it from generation to generation. It also goes hand in hand with religious traditions as the event is associated with St. James the Apostle and the tree is also referred to as the ‘James Tree’. It is said that the stick of Valburga, nailed to Saint James and Saint Philip, turned green and sprouted flowers indicating virginal purity, thus the symbolism associated with the tradition. 

It’s interesting to note how many of Hungary’s traditions are rooted in religion and how its’ continued to play a major role in culture and heritage. Overall, I enjoyed learning about this event and will be exploring more to understand its’ impact in Hungarian history. 

Annotations: 

For visual reference check out: 

https://i.szalas.hu/packages/1150397/original/706320.jpg

For more historical background: 

http://studyinhungary.hu/blog/colourful-springtime-tradition-in-hungary-the-may-tree