The colorful circle of celebrations, fun and traditions makes Hungary a vivid and worth visiting place during the winter months.
We start the ´winter season´ with the gorgeous holiday of the All Saints, November 1st, when our beautiful, historical cemeteries transform to a blooming, colorful chrysanthemum field, lightened in candle lights during the evenings. The cemeteries are open until later in the evening because of the crowds of the people who want to admire this special visual joy.
The day of Martin of Tours – Szent Márton, 11th November is the next ´delicious´ happening that is all about goose baking and tasting new wine in vineyards of the countryside in Hungary. Martin of Tours was born in Savaria, a small West Hungarian town. His legend is famous for the moment when he was hiding and living in the goose shed because he did not want to become the bishop of Tours who lives in a palace as a noble man – his modesty made him a saint and got the important role in Hungary: protector of the new wine!
Saint Nicolas – Mikulás is checking on us on the 6th of December morning. We, and especially the less than 12 years old generation in Hungary, are cleaning our winter shoes, leaving them in front of the entrance gate the evening before. 6th December we will get to know the annual evaluation by Mikulás:
1. If there was chocolate in the shoes, we were good kids this year.
2. If there are birch sticks in the shoes, the Krampus (devils of St. Nicolas) will punish us.
This cute and cheeky tradition is really popular all around Hungary, many times you meet Krampus people walking on the street, spanking walkers with jokes: act good next year!
Christmas time is very quiet in Hungary and Budapest. This is the time to be with your family, share the home and the love with your closest. This means, 24th – 26th December everything is closed, shops, institutions, restaurants. Even in Budapest, it is a challenge to find open places. If you would like to enjoy the thrilling Christmas lights and markets of Budapest that is definitely a must see attraction when you are traveling in the region, do it a few weeks or days before 24th December, the markets are open from the first week of Advent. And if you are stuck in Hungary during the Christmas days for any reason, the best thing to do is: book a fancy wellness and spa hotel in the countryside, enjoy the delicious special Christmas menu of the hotel and warm up your body in the curative thermal waters. What will you eat as a Christmas menu? Plenty honey-spice biscuits, honey schnapps, paprika fish soup, stuffed cabbage, baked duck and some more cherry, plum, poppy seed strudels after your 4 or 5 course meal! And it would be a pity to miss the charming midnight service; in the Chatolic and Reformist churches all around Hungary beautiful Bethlehem scenes and Christmas decorations are set and it is always a pleasant stroll during the chilly, winter night to get to the church with your closest.
New Years´ Eve in Budapest is quite chaotic! There are plenty of clubs that are offering memorable parties and European youth loves to visit Budapest to party in the city. You will definitely have a wild festival feeling while strolling along the downtown of the city during 31st December. Every year there is a different spot where the countdown is happening. If you would like to have a more special experience, it is worth to book a Danube cruise New Years´Eve or book a table at one of our world class downtown restaurants or city wine cellars with special culinary offers. Bad news for vegetarians: it is a must to eat baked pork on the 31st December in Hungary because the pig is rooting in the fortune of your life and a big mistake to eat poultry during the last day of the year because the birds scrape out that fortune from your life! January 1st eat a lot of lentils, that will bring you a lot of health and money!
Carnival starts 6th January in Hungary and lasts six weeks. Every village and town and family has a way of celebrating this old tradition. The globalized city of Budapest has a fancy, new wave tradition, there is a week in the city when the best restaurants join their powers, offering delicious food packages for every day for special prices, like this, the family and friends can eat out every day in a fine dining restaurant and celebrate the Carnival by city life style. One of the oldest and most authentic carnival is in the town of Mohács, in Southern Hungary where the monster Busó men are rowing through the river to catch the witches of the winter and through them in the giant fireplace in front of the town hall. After scaring away the winter witches, the people of the town together with the visitors are dancing together around the fire, celebrating the end of the winter!