On the night of December 5th St Nicholas (Szent Mikulas) or in Britain or America as he is known: Father Christmas or Santa Claus comes to visit.
This tradition originates from the story that Mikulas wanted to help out a poor old man who did not have the money to pay the dowry for his daughters therefore they would have been sold into slavery. Mikulas is thought to have thrown money into his shoes drying by the open fire. This brought about the tradition of hanging stockings by the fireplace in the hope of getting presents.
These days in Hungary the children receive sweets of small toys on this night and Szent Mikulas is thought to be accompanied by an angel and a type of black demon who looks for those children who have been naughty and leaves them golden twigs as a warning.
On Saturday 6th December you can in fact see many shop workers and so forth wearing horns and carrying golden twigs.
- Family Travel
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Christmas fair with three million light bulbs
Downtown of Budapest is always in festive flood of light in the weeks of Advent, which officially begins the fourth Sunday before December 25.
From this occasion a spectacular fair takes place every year from the end of November until end of December in the heart of the city, in Vörösmarty Square. The popular and Europe-wide well known festive atmosphere of the Fair is due to the unique pavilions and the exclusive goods available in them: almost 100 craft stands offer goods, special gifts and folk art and craft decorations.
The Gerbeaud house's facade turns into a giant Advent calendar and daily in the evening at five oclock a contemporary artist's creation appears in the accompaniment of a play of sound and light in a newer window. As you know, the Advent calendar, like the Christmas tree, came from Swabian region of Germany.
The fair also has a gastronomic side. On the event, the visitors can taste the traditional Hungarian foods, such as stuffed cabbage, chimney cake and the famous "lángos"!! After drinking a mug of mulled wine, you may take the mug home as a souvenir.
The Christmas fair on Vörösmarty square is elected as one of the world's 10 best Christmas fairs by the travel magazine Travel and Leisure.
Address: Budapest V., Vorosmarty ter
Directions: Vorosmarty ter M1 Millennium metro terminal
- Family Travel
Name-days in Hungary
Name days in Hungary differently from english-speaking countries are widely celebrated and very popular. A flower and tiny gifts are given as a present to the women mainly, the men get bottle of wine from everybody, the colleagues, the family, and from friends.
Birthday is popular too, but its celebrating is generaly a matter of the family.
The Roman Catholic Church provides the name of one of his Saints to the Baptized who should be his/her ideal and his/her patron in the matters with God. This is the main forename, in Hungary called "Christian name", given to a child at the baptism or "christening".
I got my christian name from Saint Ladislaus, in Hungarian (Szent) Laszlo, who was the 5th christian King of Hungary in the 11st Century.
- Arts and Culture
- Wine Tasting
Shinny Horse Balls
Located here in the Castle District just steps away from the Dali Cafe is the statue of Andras Hadik on a horse. It is said that rubbing the balls of the horse will bring you luck and it is the reason why while the rest of the horse has a green patina the "balls" are super shinny.
I personally didn't rub them and did see anyone else around me rubbing them either, but someone's been rubbing them. LOL
Sweet tooth of Budapest
Hungary has a varied and wonderful selection of pastries to please any sweet tooth. Just take a walk around any neighborhood and you will definitely find a shop selling all these wonderful treats.
Here is a list of some of the wonderful treats you will find at any of these shops which can be enjoyed any time of the day.
Dobos torta (Dobos cake) - sponge layered with rich chocolate cream and coated with crunchy caramel
Eszeteházy torta - cake layered with walnut cream
Krémes - light vanilla craem filled between two layers of crunchy puff pastries
Rigó Jancsi - chocolate sponge filled with light chocolate mousse and coated with chocolate
Rákóczi Túrós - cottage cheese cake
Strudels (Rétes), a flaky pastry with various fillings like cottage cheese, apple, poppy-seed and cherries
Kürtõs kalács is a hollow, cylinder shaped pastry coated with castor sugar, cinnamon or walnut, this particular treat is sold at festivals and outdoor events.
Taste the local flavor
Hungarian goulash is considered the most famous of Hungarian meals. It is said that everyone has their own version or way of cooking it by adding or omitting some ingredients, but they all call their recipe "authentic gulyás".
The main ingredients to this wonderful dish is beef which is cooked with onions, Hungarian paprika powder, tomatoes and some green pepper. Some will add some potatos and/or noodles. When a goulash is well cooked properly it should have a somewhat thick consistency which may resemble a sauce and is usually eatan as main dish.
Do you smoke?
Rákóczi út is the long way to Keleti palayudvar that I baptized Nikórette út: every 50m you run into an ashtray, some full of cigarettes, some other empty, but ALL sponsorized by a famous stop-smoking gum...
For some reason many toilets in Hungry and back to front with the drainage part at the very front. Instead of dropping straight down the back part is like a tray. I was very curious as to why this is and thought that it might be made that way so you can exam your stool samples to check and see if all is healthy. When I asked a Hungarian friend she told me Hungarians are obsessed with the 'waste' they produce! Maybe that's just her office colleagues, but the toilet design certainly does help this fascination as it is right there staring back at you!
Budapest has a lot of Thermal baths.
A lot of local and of course tourists come and enjoy the water for relaxation , medical purposes and even to just meet friends or enjoy a chess game.
The most famous thermal baths in Budapest are :
Gellert Bath - located on Gellert hill very close to the Gellert hotel.
Szechenyi Bath - located on city park , behind heroes square.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
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If you need to go to the toilet while traveling in Budapest there are some chemical or public toilets.
Most of them are very clean and you will have to pay 50-150 forint.
Of course if you are in a hotel , a restaurant or a shopping mall you will not have to pay for entering the toilet.
The Hungarian cuisine is very famous for the Paprika - the spicy hot pepper that brought by the turks in the 16th-17th century.
You will find in any touristic area and the central market hall stands with a lof of dried paprika in packets outside.
You can buy paprika in a few ways : a big packet , a paste (comes in bottles or tubes) , powder.
- Food and Dining
Chain bridge during the summer
During the summer weekends (on saturday and sunday) the chain bridge in the middle of Budapest becomes a pedestrian only area and you will be able to enjoy a non-traffic area with food stands , gifts stands , live shows and great atmosphere.
Beside the nice "festival" the view from here is lovely with the Buda castle on one side and Roosvelt square on the other side.
Tipping in restaurants
A lot of restaurants include the service on the bill.
Most of the time it will be 10% and they write it on the bottom of the bill for your comfort of understanding the bill's parts.
If you don't see the service included you can always ask and give the waiter a 10% tip - he will be very happy.
Drinking after work
A lot of people just go after work to sit on a pub/restaurant and enjoy a glass of wine or beer.
It is very common and men and women sit and drink.
Every restaurant has a drink menu and if you want a beer or wine or stronger beverage you can choose from a variety.
The hungarian beer and wine is very good.
- Beer Tasting
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Unicum is a more than 40 herbal digestif.
It is very common to drink a glass of Unicum after a big meal.
Some of the restaurant will give you a glass of Unicum after you finish to eat.
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