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)
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...:)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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