Part 1 Celebrating the Christmas season with Hungarian Style Part 1
We are talking about Mikulás on the podcast today! Are you ready for his visit?
So, before I get too much flack for today’s topic, I want to explain a little something. A few years ago we hosted a Christmas market tour to Hungary. It was a lot of fun, of course. But what I noticed the most was that the time leading up to Christmas was not commercialized the way we see it in the United States. There were advent wreaths all around – some huge and in the center of the town. Decorating windows for Christmas was quite a thing in the shops of villages and also all around Budapest. There is a countdown to Christmas, but it felt like a wonderful anticipation, not a big rush to gear up for intense purchasing and Santa all over town. It was quite refreshing!
So, while Christmas is about Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Hungary, in the US we have Christmas kinds of things happening just after Thanksgiving. For the record, Hungarians don’t typically put their tree up until December 24th. And that tradition is very different than ours in the US.
So, enjoy these next 8 episodes and learn how you can weave more Hungarian traditions into your Christmas holidays and maybe some of the things your parents or grandparents did will make a little more sense.
Let’s start by celebrating Mikulas nap or St. Nicholas Day
December 6th is the name day of Miklós, and children especially love this day because for them it is Mikulás Nap. The Hungarian Santa, called Mikulás, visits children on December 6th, St. Nicholas Day. Children shine their shoes or boots then put them in the windowsill on the evening of December 5th. If the child has been good, Mikulás visits in the early morning hours and fills the boot with goodies – traditionally candies, tangerines, walnuts, apples, dates, and chocolate Mikulás figures. Many children also receive small toys and books. If the child has been a little bad, the boot will contain a bundle of twigs (like a “switch”). If the child has been very naughty, they get lumps of coal or potatoes. Since no child is all good or all bad, most get the switch and the treat. There is no Mrs. Santa in Hungary, but Mikulás often travels with one or two small evil goblins, called krampusz.
You can start a fun tradition with Mikulás this year! You can adapt and celebrate however it works in your family. If you don’t live near the ones you love you can always send a Mikulás package with fun little treats!
Enjoy the season and enjoy celebrating with Hungarian style! We have all sorts of gift ideas at TheHungarianStore.com