The wide steppe called Puszta is Hungary’s typical landscape. In the past, horse herders looked after the cows that were allowed to graze in the treeless expanse. They are called Csikós and are known for their special riding skills. Such csikós still occur today for tourists or at festivals. Well known is an artistic performance called Hungarian Post. The rider stands on two horses, with one leg each on the back of a horse. He drives three more horses as a team in front of him.
Lake Balaton is also a popular holiday destination for Germans. In Hungarian the lake is called Balaton. It is not very deep and therefore heats up quickly. Especially on the south bank, it goes very flat into the water for a long time. There are freely accessible bathing areas, but also beach baths that require entry.
Csárdás is the name of a traditional Hungarian folk dance. But the music for it is also called that. The word tchaardaasch is pronounced. It is derived from the Hungarian word for tavern (Csárda). The dancers join a multitude of figures together. The typical csárdás step is a sideways step. But rotations are also part of it. The pace increases from slow to very fast. Here you can hear a csárdás.
Who is the Turul?
The Turul is a mythical creature. The bird is a cross between an eagle and a hawk. According to a Hungarian legend, he appeared to the mother of Prince Álmos, himself father of Árpád. Árpád led the Magyar people to their present country and became the founder of the Árpáden dynasty. The Turul is said to have prophesied in the “Dream of Emese” that she would have a son who would be the ancestor of many kings. A Turul is said to have brought Árpád and his men to Hungary. The turul became the symbol of the Árpáds and then for all of Hungary.
Who is the Puli?
Puli is the name of a Hungarian breed of dog. Several Puli are called Pulik. Pulik have a very long fur that strings down to the ground. This fur protects well against the cold. Pulik are originally sheepdogs. They are very vigilant and like to bark. By the way, there are other Hungarian shepherd dogs. Two of them are called Mudi and Pumi. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
Christmas in Hungary
How do Hungarians celebrate Christmas?
As early as Christmas time, children go to the families in the neighborhood and offer a nativity play. They collect donations for the poor. On December 6th, Santa Claus brings sweets to the shoes that have been cleaned and prepared in the evening. Nicholas is here called Mikulás.
Luca day – Luca Napja
December 13th is also a special day. While in Sweden the Lucia Festival is celebrated, in Hungary Luca Day – or in Hungarian Luca Napja – is celebrated. Traditionally, from that day on, women built a chair that should be ready on Christmas Eve. Only one part was allowed to be added each day, and the chair had to be made from seven types of wood. They took him to church on Christmas Eve, stood on him, and drove the witches away. Another variant says that the woman whose chair broke is a witch herself.
In addition, the young women gathered on Luca Day. You write down the names of every 13 young men on a piece of paper. Every day a piece of paper was chosen at random and thrown away. The man who was left was then the girl’s future husband.
Salon sugar on Christmas Eve
In Hungary, a country located in Europe detailed by franciscogardening, too, people put up a Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. Typical Christmas decorations are salon sugar, or Szaloncukor in Hungarian. These are pralines that are wrapped in colored tinfoil paper. They are available with very different fillings such as marzipan, jelly or coconut.
The Christ Child brings gifts, in Hungary it is called Jézuska. A typical dish on Christmas Eve is fish soup. Bejgli is a yeast roll filled with nuts or poppy seeds, which should not be missing for Christmas either. The recipe for this is usually passed on in the families.
Eating in Hungary
What do you eat in Hungary?
Goulash is considered the most typical Hungarian dish. However, in Hungary, Gulyás is a goulash soup. The word Pörkölt, on the other hand, describes what we mean by goulash. The meat, pork or beef, is braised with onions and peppers. Goulash soup, on the other hand, is traditionally prepared in a cauldron. After the beef has been braised, the whole thing is topped up with water. Potatoes and peppers are also added to the soup, and it is seasoned with caraway seeds. Incidentally, the word Gulyás originally referred to a cattle herder.
Paprika is also typical of Hungary’s cuisine – both the vegetables and the spices as paprika powder. You also need both for the chicken paprika that people like to eat in Hungary. Hungarians also like stuffed peppers.
For Lecsó you braise yellow pointed peppers with tomatoes and onions and eat this as a main course. Typical side dishes are generally potatoes and also dumplings (small dumplings similar to Italian gnocchi).
Esterházy cake and other goodies
People in Hungary like sweets too. The most famous cakes here are Dobo cakes and Esterházy cakes. Dobo cake is made from several layers of sponge cake and chocolate cream. A caramel icing is added to the top of the cake. Esterházy cake also consists of several layers, but a macaroon dough and light buttercream are used here. A popular dessert is pancakes. This has nothing to do with ham, but rather thin, filled pancakes.
Langosch (or Lángos) is a bread specialty. One likes to eat Langosch as a snack in between. The one on the photo below is topped with grated cheese, smoked bacon and onions.