Posted by Eszter Hermann · Dec 15, 2014

What are the traditional dishes served in Hungary at Christmas? What are the popular Hungarian Christmas songs? We’ve already written about the special Advent traditions in Hungary, but, as the holidays are right at the door, we decided to collect some ingredients of a typical Hungarian Christmas as well.

At Christmas, Hungarians celebrate the birth day of Jesus Christ and for many Hungarian families, this is the only time along the year when big families get together. Just like in each country that celebrates Christmas, Hungarians like to start preparing for the holiday as soon as possible. Before December 24th, people decorate their houses, put on lights and of course, plan the menu.

However, the tree is only set up and decorated on the Holy Night, you won’t find Christmas trees in Hungarian homes before that. It has become popular to decorate the tree together, children and parents participating in it, too, but traditionally, the Christmas tree is decorated and the gifts are placed under it without the children noticing. Children are taught that it is baby Jesus (Jézuska) who brings the decorated tree and gifts for all on Christmas Eve and not Santa Claus as in many other countries.

photo: yuliene.blogspot.com

Christmas trees are usually adorned with lights, sparkles and often handmade ornaments. There are traditionally some edible ornaments, too: gingerbread (honey bread) figurines and “szaloncukor” (a special Hungarian candy) are also put on the tree. „Szaloncukor” is a Christmas candy (literally „parlour candy”) made of fondant, covered with chocolate. It can come in a variety of flavours, like jelly, coconut, caramel or hazelnut and is wrapped in silver, gold and red shiny paper tied with bows.


A traditional Hungarian Christmas dinner usually consists of a special type of fish soup that Hungarians call „fisherman’s soup”; it’s a hot, but at least spicy paprika-based river fish soup, originating as a dish of Hungarian cuisine, a bright red hot soup prepared with generous amounts of hot paprika and carp or mixed river fish. Stuffed cabbage is another typical dish served at Christmas and, as for the sweet treats, „beigli” is the most popular dessert. It is a traditional winter pastry stuffed with poppy seeds or chestnuts filling.


Music is also an important part of celebration. On Holy Night, Hungarians listen to holiday songs such as „Silent Night” (Csendes éj), „Angel from Heaven” (Mennyből az angyal) or „Oh beautiful pine” (Ó, szép fenyő).


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