Tag Archives: Hungary

Mikulás Day

Main Text: 

Mikulás Nap (Saint Nicholas Day) in Hungarian tradition is celebrated annually on December 6th. 

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 with the traditions of Mikulás Nap as a child and continued to practice it with her own children. 


She explains: 


“Mikulás is the Hungarian ’Santa Claus’ but it is also a reference to Saint Nicholas (Miklós or Mikulás). On every December 5th, children are told to put out shoes (boots usually) in front of their house, windows, or even in more modern times their rooms. 

Then by the next morning on December 6th, which is Mikulás Nap (Saint Nicholas Day), good children wake up to find chocolates, small toys, and sometimes even money in their shoes, while the bad children get “virgács” which is like twigs wrapped in red paper as their punishment (kind of looks like a small broom)— it’s supposed to be a reference to ‘Krampusz’ who is this devil-elf hybrid creature. But no one really ever gives their children it even if they deserve it. My mother always told me I would get it, but she never would, she got me the most delicious treats. 

No one really practices “virgács” anymore and ‘Krampusz’ is not associated with Hungarian Christmas culture anymore either. In more modern times, I usually use the American Christmas Stockings to place small chocolates and tiny presents for my children, and then the next celebration after this is our Christmas (‘Karácsony’) on December 24th.”


I loved learning about the traditions of Mikulás Nap and understanding the origin of the holiday and how it has shifted from tradition customs to a more modern version. It’s interesting to see how Hungarian tradition as well as other Eastern European cultures have this precursor holiday ahead of Christmas. Having also grown up with practicing this mini-holiday in my own traditions, I learned a lot about ‘Krampusz’ who has played a large of role in the past, but has now become outdated in modern customs yet very much active in pop culture. I also had never heard of the “virgács” and assuringly most parents tend to treat their children with rewarding gifts rather than punishments on this day. 

As St. Nicholas is the patron saint of children, it is without a doubt that this ‘Father Christmas’ treats his children with blessings. I also love how this tradition hasn’t really spread far from Eastern Europe traditions and that it never caught on in the Western world as much as the other traditions such as ‘Santa Clause’ and Christmas as a whole. But overall, I was able to learn more about this tradition and the importance it continues to play in Hungarian culture, and its preservation that I would say will continue to last a long time. 


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Easter Tradition in Hungary

Background about Informant:

Anna is a 22-year-old exchange student from Hungary, studying business at USC. She was born and raised in Budapest and has knowledge of many facts and traditions of Hungary.

 General Description from Informant:

“We have a strange Easter tradition when boys have to pour water/perfume on girls – they do it with a bucket of water on the countryside but in cities people usually spray perfume. I personally always hated this tradition. Especially because by the end of the day, girls usually smell like a perfume store – never wash your hair the day before! And when I was around 6 my best friend’s friend who came to water her poured a whole bottle of perfume into my face by accident and it all went into my eyes. It was as pleasant as you can imagine.

The guys have to say or learn or write a rhyme “I went to this forest and found this flower, can I water this flower?” and the girl is the flower. And then they spray perfume or water on you.

Either the rhymes are sexual for teenage guys or kind of cute/dumb for non-teenagers. And it’s really cute when little boys remember the rhymes.”

Follow-up Questions:

  • Where/who did you learn it from?
    • “My parents when I was a kid, we always do this.”
  • What does it mean to you?
    • “I don’t like it because of the perfume. But it’s normal because it’s part of the Easter tradition. I’m fine when it
  • Why do males throw water on females and not vice versa?
    • “In the countryside, guys did everything. Also part of guys meeting girls and meeting your wife, and of course the girl is the flower and not the guy. How else would they meet the girls otherwise?”
  • What do you think this festival symbolizes?
    • “Something about fertility but I don’t know. But maybe it’s just a nice thing too.”
  • Who are the participants?
    • “Guys of all ages – even the grandfathers. And women of all ages too.”

 Analysis from Collector:

I think this Easter Tradition found in Hungary is in line with many other Spring/Easter festivals found around the world. Spring festivals usually revolve around new life, reproduction, and fertility. In the Hungarian Easter tradition the woman represents the flower and the guys represent the fertilizing or stimulant. The flower represents virginity and fertility, while the watering represents the fertilizing of a flower and stimulating growth. Simply, it represents sexual intercourse between men and women for reproductive purposes.

The fact that the grandfathers and older women take part in the tradition seems a little strange, as fertility is usually centered on a younger generation. This part of the tradition may have changed with the times for everyone to participate and have fun. However, I believe the tradition started in the countryside as a way for men and women to meet each other and ultimately lead to reproduction.

Hungarian Superstition

Background about Informant:

Anna is a 22-year-old exchange student from Hungary, studying business at USC. She was born and raised in Budapest and has knowledge of many facts and traditions of Hungary.

General Description from Informant:

“There’s this superstition some people in Hungary believe – if a girl sits at the corner of the table that means she will never get married.”

Follow-up Questions:

  • Where/who did you learn this superstition from?
    • “My friends, girls in general. I think in elementary school, maybe while sitting in the cafeteria or something.”
  • What does it mean to you? Do you believe it’s true?
    • “I don’t believe it’s true and no one believes it’s true, but no one does it because you feel uncomfortable if you do it, because you never know – it could happen. Like, you know it’s a superstition, but you don’t know, why not be safe anyways.”
  • Where did it come from? What’s the history behind it?
    • “I’m assuming something from the countryside but I don’t know exactly what. Most of these superstitions come from the countryside.”
  • What do you think it symbolizes?
    • “Since it probably comes from countryside – and everyone wanted to get married early, and it’s all about the girl, it was a big shame to not get married, so came from the fear of not being married.”
  • Why is it only girls and not guys that can get the bad luck?
    • “Because guys were not afraid of not getting married.”

Analysis from Collector:

This is just one Hungarian superstition, which is also found in other Europian countries as well. The way Anna explained people’s thoughts about the superstition is in line with many superstitions – which is that usually they don’t explicitly believe in it, but they do acknowledge it enough to not do. The idea is, “why take any chances” with these superstitions.

I think Anna is right in thinking that it comes from the fear that women will not get married and where guys did not worry about not getting married. Through further research, I discovered this superstition is prevalent in many countries, but the exact meaning behind it is unclear.