Winter Holidays

For those living in Hungary, winter holidays hold special significance. Due to the cold weather and early darkness, these holidays bring pleasant variety and color to everyday life.

The Advent period is the last four weeks of the year, a time of preparation for Christmas. Advent wreaths are set up in homes, which are inaugurated by lighting a new candle every Sunday. During the Advent period, there are often fairs where handmade crafts and Christmas decorations can be purchased.
Christmas is one of the most important holidays for Hungarians. From the period of waiting for the holiday to the actual Christmas celebration, beautifully decorated trees and houses welcome people everywhere. Families gather and celebrate Christmas together. One important part of the festive dinner is fish soup, made from a spicy variety of carp. Gifts are placed under the Christmas tree and are opened by family members after the festive dinner.

New Year’s Eve is the next important winter holiday in Hungary. People usually celebrate this night at home and welcome the new year with firecrackers and fireworks at midnight. On January 1st, the first day of the new year, lentil soup is traditionally cooked, as it is believed to bring luck in the new year.
St. Nicholas Day is a truly heartwarming winter holiday, part of the Christmas season, and of Advent. St. Nicholas Day is a fitting part of the pre-Christmas anticipation. The well-known Santa Claus is a fictional, invented person, yet his story is closely intertwined with the figure of St. Nicholas of the Christians, from whom the expression Santa Claus also originates. St. Nicholas (then not yet a saint) was a bishop of a Roman province in the 4th century. His life started out very sad, as his parents died early, and he was placed under the guardianship of his uncle, who held the position of bishop. From this point on, it became quite clear that he too would embark on an ecclesiastical career, which would become his calling.

In fact, he was quite successful, as he was chosen to be the bishop of Demre, in present-day Turkey, thanks to an event attributed to divine intervention. He held his office for more than half a century, a total of 52 years. His generosity, sense of justice, and kindness made him famous far and wide, and he died on December 6th, 343. It was well-known about him that he dedicated his entire life and wealth to helping the poor and children, yet it was not his life’s work, but a single small act that made him famous worldwide. It happened that a very poor man lived next to Bishop Nicholas, who had 3 adult daughters who were about to be sold. The daughters had no dowry, and it was almost impossible to marry them off. Upon hearing this, Bishop Nicholas threw 3 sacks of gold into the poor man’s house, which were used to pay for the dowry of the three daughters. This act of kindness has been passed down through the ages and is still commemorated today on St. Nicholas Day.

Renátó Romanoczki

Traditional Hungarian fish soup at the Christmas time.


Source of imagine:, paprikabolt.h

Main photo: Traditional Hungarian fish soup at the Christmas time.