Christmas holiday in Hungary is one of the most exceptional holidays that you should celebrate with the local people in the country. This period is all about celebrations, family, friends, and having a good time together.

You will find Christmas self-made ornaments, a variety of Hungarian dishes, Christmas crafts as well as an amazing family time.

Christmas customs and traditions in Hungary

Hungary has some of the most unique Christmas traditions and you’re about to learn what sets them apart. Hungarians usually like to take their Christmas celebrations a notch higher by putting up Christmas lights, decorating their homes, and holding Christmas markets where you can find a wide array of food and ornaments as well.

Here are some of the common Christmas traditions in Hungary.

Advent in Hungary

Advent calendar in Hungary is utilized to count the days until Christmas.

Perhaps one of the most common traditions that you are going to find in Hungary is advent. During this period, people from different parts of the country enjoy this amazing time as they bond with their family members. The advent period usually begins four Sundays before Christmas. During this period, families around the country will decorate their front yards with beautiful wreaths with four candles.

It is common to find this on tables as well around the country. Each Sunday from the weekend of Advent, one candle is lit, and this practice goes on over the weeks until the last one is lit on Christmas Eve. Whether you are visiting the urban area or rural  Hungary, the wreaths are colorful and spread around.

It is a common culture in the country for the children to receive advent calendars and some of these calendars usually have a tiny door for each of the advent days, along with a chocolate cube.

St. Andrew’s Day in Hungary

This is a unique Christmas tradition popular in different parts of Hungary. The day usually begins on November 30th and it is a popular holiday, especially for many unmarried women around the country. People believe that during this period the women would predict their weddings or the area which they would be married into across the region. It is also a season for pig slaughtering, therefore; you are going to find many people active during this period.

Further reading: Christmas in Croatia

St. Lucy’s Day in Hungary

This is a unique holiday that Hungarians celebrate. It is a holiday highly associated with evil spirits and in many places around  Hungary, you will find people making the local chair. It is believed that if someone stood on the chair then they can see evil spirits or witches in the future. This is a good way of finding the expectations for the new year.

Krampusz in Hungary

Perhaps one of the most common traditions around the country is Krampus and this is the helper to Santa.

This is a very unique creature, unlike the helpers of Santa who we are familiar with, especially those with a glowing nose, snow, and reindeer. However, krampusz has fangs, horns, and a unique tail. The main work of krampusz is to punish children who have misbehaved over the years and it is an important aspect to ensure that the children who did not perform well over the year will not be given presents. Instead, they will get twigs.

Further reading: Christmas in Austria

St. Mikulás Day in Hungary

This is a legendary day people celebrate in Hungary. People in the country take this day very seriously and St. Mikulás is the Christmas Santa in the country. During this day, it is a common belief that St. Nicholas will visit children in schools and at their homes.

While at home, the children will wait for St. Mikulás by leaving their polished boots at the window on the night of the 5th of December. It is a common belief that  St. Nicholas is going to leave presents inside the boots. The common presents during this period include toys, books, candies, mandarins, and peanuts.

However, it is important to understand that if the children have been on a bad behavior throughout the year, then they are likely to miss the presents and instead they will receive dry twigs as a sign for them to change their behavior.

In some of the regions where there are small children, they are often dressed up as St. Mikulás and when he arrives, the children will recite poems and sing songs for him. St. Nicholas will then reward them with unique treats.

Christmas tree in Hungary

Christmas tree decorations in Hungary.

It is a common tradition around the country that people usually get their own Christmas tree. For many people across the country, they will usually get the tree in the forest. Currently, people in different parts of the country, especially in urban areas, can get their Christmas trees from local vendors around the state.

The tree is usually decorated on the 24th of December and it is the perfect time for you to interact with the people around you and participate in the decoration. The young members of the family are usually trusted with the Christmas tree decoration and there are different features, such as Christmas stars and lights. 

You will find that people include sparkles on their Christmas tree, therefore you are sure of having something interesting during this period. In some places, you will find that the Christmas tree is decorated with gingerbread, handmade ornaments, and figurines. Other places have candies that are left under the tree.

The Hungarian candies are usually covered with chocolates and they are wrapped in gold, silver, or shiny red paper. It is believed that Santa Claus will bring gifts to the children and place them under the Christmas tree.

Christmas Eve in Hungary

Traditionally in the country, you are going to find that people usually begin their Christmas traditions in the afternoon. While the adults are setting up the Christmas lights and other sparkles, the children are not allowed in the room. Once they are allowed, they will find their candies and presents under the Christmas tree.

In Hungary, it is a common tradition to decorate the Christmas tree, and it is considered a holy night. Once the tree is decorated family members will gather and have dinner as they exchange gifts during this period.  

Hungarian dinners are very unique and you will find dishes of all kinds. The people in the country are very dedicated to this and transportation around the country stops at 4 pm to allow people to go and celebrate the day with their family members. The people in the country value Christmas and the local people usually celebrate this time with immense joy and feasts.

It is the most commonly kept tradition in the country. Once the Christmas tree is set up, a bell is usually rung and this excites the children as they are going to find their gifts during this period. People sing Christmas carols as they open up their gifts.

Christmas dinner in Hungary

When the excitement is in place Hungarians usually complete their Christmas day by enjoying their meals at the table with friends and families.

One of the most common meals for the traditional Christmas dinner are stuffed cabbages, turkey, carp fish soup, and beigli which is a pastry that is stuffed with chestnuts, or poppy seeds. In some areas around the country, you are going to find people celebrating by drinking some of the famous wines around. 

There is a midnight mass to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus. It is a common to find people visiting their friends and relatives during the Christmas period. This is common, especially for people who do not live closer to each other.

In many places around the country, you will find that the shops, offices, and other business areas are closed until the 26th or 27th. The holiday period allows people to enjoy with their families. You might find that restaurants can be open because some people will visit them during this period.

Further reading: Dangerous animals in Hungary

Christmas Desserts in Hungary

Some of the most common Hungarian desserts that are more popular during the holiday season are beigli. This is a pastry that has poppy seeds and it is mostly prepared during the Christmas period. The poppy seeds in the desserts are a symbol of abundance and prosperity. 

It is therefore more common that you will find people sharing this dessert during their Christmas celebrations. In other areas, you will find Szaloncukor which is a popular foiled-wrapped candy that you will find in various markets around the country. You will find vendors in markets and specialty shops selling them.

Snow crescents are also common and these are crescent-shaped cookies that are often dusted with sugar and it is a common phenomenon around the country.

Aurimas Bio

Hi there! I’m Aurimas, a man behind Go Look Explore. I’m passionate about hiking, exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations, and everything outdoors related. Let’s connect.