15th March - Commemorations at the National Museum
The 15th March is a National Holiday in Hungary to commemorate the revolution of 1848.
At this time major festivities are being held around the city, one of the biggest ones at the National Museum.
(The National Museum is on Muzeum krt., near Kalvin ter M3 underground station)
Easter - Sprinkling
The origins of sprinkling are not quite determined, but it surely has to do something with the purity of water, the purification of spring and fertility.
In the past boys and girls wearing folk costumes (which were the clothes for festive days like that one) have been doing this with buckets of water (boys sprinkling, girls getting sprinkled...:).
Now it's more with perfume, sometimes with sparkling water and only in some regions and some very few are still wearing the old costumes for this occasion.
Obviously girls had to change a couple of times during the day, so they tended not to wear their most beautiful and complicated (various petticoats, etc...) folk costumes...:)
Easter - Egg painting
Egg painting is not only a Hungarian tradition, since the egg symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus in the whole Christian world.
The easter eggs in Hungary were originally painted with onion skin and other plants. Techniques of egg decoration include: painting, scratching and waxing, but there are also some people putting little horseshoes on the eggs.
Picture is taken from the page of Huszakne Czencz Marietta, traditional egg painter.
Hungarian National Flag with a hole
The Hungarian National Flag with a hole in the middle originates from the revolution of 1956, when the revolutionists on the 23rd of October tore out the foreign (Soviet) coat of arms, symbolizing the power of the Soviet Union and the communists.
Since then the flag with the hole is symbolizing the freedom of the Hungarian nation.
Last names first please! :)
The hungarian language is not an easy one itself, so why not make it a little more confusing with the names? :)
In hungary we put the last name (the family name) first. However if a hungarian speaks english, he/she usually changes the order back to "normal".
To be sure, just ask for the names before you start calling someone by his/her family name...it can also happen that someone has a "last name sounding" first name, so be aware! :)
In Hungary there are usually 2 sizes of beer in the pubs:
- Pohar (glass) usually means half of a pint
- Korso ("mug") is a pint (half liter)
There might be some extra sizes, but this is the standard. 1 liter mugs (called on some places "Krigli") are not that common over here.
General meeting place - Nyugati clock
One of the most popular meeting places of the people in Budapest is the so called "Nyugati clock".
People come and go all the time at that spot, just spend a good half an hour there and you will see lovers on a date, friends before a party, someone giving back a book to a schoolmate, mother waiting for his son before shopping...
So don't worry if someone says to you, let's meet at the Nyugati station at the clock, just go there look for the turning lights showing the time or the temperature (see picture!) and enjoy waiting while watching people go by! :)
ps: the place is on Nyugati square, at the Nyugati metro/railway/tram/bus station just in face of the Nyugati railways station's building.
General meeting place - Deak square
Another general meeting place for people in Budapest is the Deak square. We usually just say let's meet at the Porsche, because at the entrance of the underground (see picture) on the other side there was a Porsche Hungaria salon before (clothing shop nowdays).
It is a very logical meeting place, since the 3 underground lines meet just under the square, so no matter from which direction you are coming, it's easy to access.
Hungarian is an amazingly intimidating language. The first time you see something written in Hungarian you will most likely feel like you have not the slightest idea of where to start. Most tourists going somewhere where a different language is spoken try to learn a few simple phrases and words but the task seems far more monumental where Hungarian is concerned. In a few days stay in Budapest you will most likely recognize a few words and phrases. I found it easiest to concentrate on how a word sounded rather than how it was written, that made things a little easier for me.
Most Hungarians that come into contact with foreigners already understand this and most likely will not expect you to know much of their language. To their credit, I found the locals tried very hard to communicate with you and were very willing to help.
Hungarian belongs to the Finno-Ungric family of languages, though really the only languages that are even distantly related to Hungarian are Finnish and Estonian. Because of its location, Hungary is surrounded by Slavic, Romance and Germanic languages, and though it has borrowed from its neighbors, their language is still totally different.
To give you an idea, German has 4 grammatical cases, Russian has 6, Hungarian has 18.
Though communicating with the locals was a greater challenge in Hungary than in neighboring countries I had relatively little trouble finding people that could communicate in English or German. Though the people in some of the museums and tourist sights spoke relatively little English, young people for the most part spoke at least some English. One thing i did that may be helpful to others. At my hostel I asked them to tell me a few of the words I would hear and should know. I wrote down how they sounded and did pretty well that way.
naturally the most essential word is thank you.
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
Tipping is easy in Hungary. In restaurants and bars we usually give about 10% tip. It's notting really strict, just round up the bill and tell the waiter to give you back from the amount you decide on (if the bill is 1235, say 1400, and so).
As you see, we don't leave the tip after paying the bill, but together with the payment.
We don't give tip in shops elsewhere. That's about it :)
15th March - Kokarda
The 15th March is a National Holiday in Hungary to commemorate the revolution of 1848.
The so called "Kokarda" is a symbol we wear around this day, since that was the sign of the members of the revolution at their time.
It's basically a small ribbon of the Hungarian national flag. This one on the jacket of my niece, Eszter :)
The most famous beer brand of Hungary is Dreher. The Dreher brewery was founded by Antal Dreher in the mid 19th century. It is located in Kobanya which is the X. district of Budapest. In local pubs or at market stalls you get a Pint of Dreher for around 200 HUF (2004).
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FOOD AND DRINKS
Hungarian goulash (gulyas) is a thick beef soup cooked with onions and potatoes and usually eaten as a main course. What we think of as goulash is actually ‘porkolt’, meat stewed with onions and paprika, the addition of sour cream makes the dish, whatever it may be, paprikas. Pork is the most common meat dish.
Cabbage is an important vegetable in Hungary, either stuffed (toltott kaposzta) or made into a thick cabbage soup (kaposzta leves). Other delicacies include goose liver (libamaj) prepared in a variety of ways and roast goose leg (sult libacomb). Chicken paprika (csirke paprikas served with tiny dumplings (galuska) is always a crowd-pleaser.
Fisherman’s soup (halaszle) is a rich mixture of several kinds of poached fish, tomatoes, green peppers and paprika.
It’s a meal in itself. Lake Balaton pike-perch (fogas) is generally served breaded and fried or grilled.
Noodle dishes with cheese like sztrapacska go well with fish dishes. Strudel (retes) is a layered pastry filled with apple, cherry, poppyseed, curd or cheese. Look out for langos, fried dough eaten with garlic, salt, cheese and sour cream. It’s a very popular snack.
Some dishes for vegetarians to request are rantott sajt (fried cheese), gombafejek rantva (fried mushroom caps), gombaleves (mushroom soup), gyumolcsleves (fruit soup), sajtoskenyer (sliced bread with soft cheese) and turoscsussza (Hungarian pasta with cheese).
Bableves (bean soup) sometimes contains meat. Pancakes/crepes (palacsinta) may be made with cheese (sajt), mushrooms (gomba), nuts (dio) or poppy seeds (mak).
Budapest is a city of many water springs - most of which are of natural thermal water. In the city there are about 10 large spas. Aside from their healing properties, those baths seem to be a favourite meeting place for Hungarian people, or a place to spend an enjoyable Sunday afternoon with family and friends. I visited two of them: the Széchenyi Spa and the Gellert Spa. The Széchenyi Spa is by far the best of the two: it has outdoor thermal pools, it's possible to play chess in the water and it's all ornated with statues. It's also cheap: entrance is 1900 HF, but you get some money back if you stay less than four hours
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