Public holidays Hungary

In addition to the national holidays (March 15, August 20, October 23) and May 1, the public holidays are the usual Christian holidays: January 1, Easter Monday, Whit Monday, All Saints’ Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day (December 25, -26). For a complete overview, please refer to the table at the bottom of this page of Hungary Holiday Country. On this page we take a closer look at the different holidays and customs in Hungary.

Name days The phenomenon of “name day” is celebrated throughout Hungary. (We only celebrate the name day in Limburg). This is originally a Catholic religious festival in honor of the saint who bore this name during his or her lifetime. The name days fall on the day on which the saint in question died. A well-known example is Saint Nicholas. He died on December 6 in the year 342. Every Hungarian who bears his name celebrates his or her “name day” on this day. Since all Hungarians receive an Orthodox name at baptism, they all have their own name day. This custom comes from the Roman Catholic faith, but is celebrated in Hungary by both Catholics and Protestants. The name day is celebrated with flowers, small gifts, cakes, drinks, family and good friends. But it is not celebrated as exuberantly as a birthday in the Netherlands. If you have multiple name days, you celebrate the name day that is closest to your own birthday. The birthday is celebrated in a small circle within the family.

National holidays There is generally no work on national holidays, banks and most shops are closed. On the other hand, museums, restaurants, (spa) baths and other attractions are usually open. We advise you to inquire beforehand if you are confident that an attraction is open on a national holiday. Public transport runs less frequently on national holidays than you are used to: it operates according to the timetables for Sundays and public holidays.

Liberation Day / Commemoration of the 1848 Uprising Until 1990, Liberation Day was celebrated on April 4, because the Soviet troops had expelled the last German troops and their allies from Hungary on this day in 1945. Nowadays the liberation festival is celebrated on March 15 – in commemoration of the independence struggle of the years 1848/1849.

Republic Day (foundation of the republic in 1989 and uprising in 1956) The celebration of “The Day of the October Revolution” has also been moved. In this case from November 7 to October 23. On that day the popular uprising broke out in 1956 and on October 23, 1989 the Hungarian People’s Republic had to make way for the Republic of Hungary.

Easter It is a typical Hungarian custom on Easter Monday to ‘water’ women and girls so that they will flourish. In villages, men used to use full buckets of water, but nowadays they make do with eau de cologne. According to tradition, the women receive Easter eggs as a gift after their sprinkling.

Mikula’s Sinterklaas in Hungary is called Mikula’s [Mikulaasj]. During the communist period, the Mikula’s tradition came under pressure. Mikolás was able to survive under the name Telapo (father winter). Since then he has come from Lapland. Traditionally, he has no Black Petes around him to help him, but a little devil, Krampusz.
A real Krampusz is so scary for small children that you rarely see it in its original appearance: a terrifying figure, wrapped in the skin of a black sheep and a red mask with horns in front of its face. The Krampusz (claw) tradition occurred in remote areas of the Alps. The figure is inspired by the devil, but when the modern Mikolás tradition was introduced, around 1850, it had to represent an Austrian. Austria was the archenemy of the Hungarians at the time . Today, Krampusz is replaced by costumed children with horns, as can be seen in the attached photo.

There are some different customs in Hungary around Saint Nicholas compared to the Netherlands. Children polish one of their boots and place it on the windowsill of their bedroom, in other regions the same is done with a sock that is hung in the window. They leave the window open to let Sinterklaas in. On the night of December 5 to 6, he puts treats in the shoes of children, provided they have polished them. It depends on the region what they receive: sweets, a small gift and a very small golden soot, for their kind and naughty deeds. Or two dolls: a devil because they are sometimes naughty and a Saint Nicholas doll because they are often sweet. Mikulas often comes to school (on December 6) and reads from his big book, just like in the Netherlands. There are also chocolate figures available around Sinterklaas, some of which look more like Santa Claus, others look very much like our own Sinterklaas, with staff, bag and miter.

Christmas Throughout Eastern Europe, people fast the day before Christmas, so that the Christmas meal tastes extra good. People sit down to eat when the first star appears in the sky and one chair is left at dinner for the Christmas child . On Christmas Eve, angels place the presents unwrapped under the tree. In Hungary, children dressed as angels or shepherds carry a manger from house to house and depict scenes from the Biblical story.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! – Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket es Boldog Új Évet!

Preparations for Christmas begin long before Christmas, especially in the predominantly Catholic countryside, where children study a performance of the Christmas story together with the pastor during Advent. This custom is called Bethlemezés and goes back to the medieval Christian mystery plays. The intention is to present the Christmas story in an entertaining way with songs, poems and witty dialogues.

Especially in the smaller village communities, it is a great honor for children to be chosen for a role in the Christmas play. On the last school day before the Christmas holidays, the Christmas play is performed in the local church with great interest from parents and members of the village community.

For this occasion, the space in the church in front of the altar has been transformed into a large nativity scene, where the children dressed as Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the three wise men from the East and other figures portray the Christmas story in poetry and singing. During Christmas, the Christmas play is repeated endlessly on the local cable network and the proud parents watch the achievements of their own offspring on television.

Christmas Eve On Christmas Eve, a Hungarian house is very busy. Before attending midnight mass, a lot of work still needs to be done. The Christmas tree is brought by Jesuska , little Jesus, around six o’clock .

Of course, little Jesus is the master of the house himself, who puts the Christmas tree on the veranda with a sheet over his head and disappears again after a few firm knocks on the door. After the children have found and admired the silver fir, they look for a place for the Christmas tree in the living room or front room. The children decorate the Christmas tree with their mother.

It is much more colorfully decorated than in the Netherlands and Flanders. Everything goes in. The tree is hung with szaloncukor , chocolates and soft candies wrapped in silk or colored silver paper. In recent years, the Hungarian Christmas tree has increasingly been decorated with baubles and lights, as in Western Europe.

While decorating the Christmas tree, the traditional Christmas cake, bejgli , is baked. Bejgli is a bar cake made of dough, filled with poppy seeds, walnuts or jam. Grated lemon and currants are added to the filling for flavor.

Father comes ‘home’ while decorating the tree and expresses his amazement at the beauty of the Christmas tree.

Father does not come home empty-handed, because he has met little Jesus who has given him the presents for the family. ‘Little Jesus still had a lot to do.’

When father puts the peak on the Christmas tree, the time has come to open the presents and wish each other Kellemes karácsonyi ünnepeket (Merry Christmas). The children who took part in the Christmas play have to do it again: they have to recite their part one more time under the decorated Christmas tree.

Then the first groups of boys appear, dressed in traditional costumes and performing old Christmas carols from house to house. This kantálók wishes the residents of the house a Merry Christmas, health and prosperity in the New Year. After their performance they are treated to a glass of wine or a glass of home-brewed pálinka , fruit gin. The lady of the house offers the singers slices of bejgli .

The Christmas meal is exactly at noon the next day. Favorite Christmas dishes in Hungary are game and poultry, such as goose, duck, turkey and chicken. Poorer families eat pork.

The main course is preceded by a strong beef soup. The dessert at Christmas is always chestnut puree with whipped cream. A good glass of wine is enjoyed with the meal. In the afternoon the family comes to visit and many bars of bejgli are consumed with pálinka and strong, fragrant Turkish coffee.

New Year’s Eve In Hungary, New Year’s Eve is called ‘Silvester Eve’. On December 31 you can buy attributes everywhere on the street, such as horns, streamers and masks. The festival is usually celebrated with friends and there is dancing.

At midnight the television is turned on to listen to the national anthem and also to sing along. Firecrackers are thrown and there are limited fireworks. Everyone one meets is kissed. People try to climb the Christmas tree on the main square. Games are also played, talked and eaten.

On New Year’s Day, people visit all family members. It is customary to recite a poem on this day. The verses contain best wishes for the new year. Masked figures pass by in villages and recite poems. The idea is to give them something, for example wine, sausage or money. Children also participate in this tradition. They stand on a chair for their presentation. They are then given some savings

Another New Year’s Day custom is to eat a dish consisting of many small pieces (legumes). So lentil soup or peas, for example. If you do this, you will have a lot of money in the new year.

On New Year’s Eve, the elderly in Hungary generally stay at home. They watch the popular New Year’s Eve cabaret, in which Hungarian politics is made fun of. Young people, on the other hand, celebrate New Year’s Eve, szilveszter , outdoors en masse.

Due to the crowds , a table in a restaurant must be reserved months before szilveszter . Dressed in tuxedos and chic evening wear and accompanied by live music, they await the start of the new year. Winter delicacies are served throughout the evening, such as sauerkraut with hurka (black pudding made from pork and bread), and there is dancing.

With a glass of Hungarian Törley champagne in hand, the new year is heralded at twelve o’clock with the singing of the Hungarian national anthem , God bless the Hungarian , asking for prosperity for Hungary.

After twelve o’clock the Silvester party really starts. But not after the waiters have carried a young piglet through the restaurant, which can be touched for a fee. An old folk belief says that touching young piglets brings good luck in the new year.

Chimney sweeps also bring good luck, according to an old folk belief. That is why chimney sweeps in their black work clothes and with a sooty face go out on New Year’s Day to wish them a Happy New Year. In return they receive a small gift.

On New Year’s Day you hear acquaintances and strangers shouting B.Ú.É.K (pronounced: ‘boojeek’) to each other on the street all day long. B.Ú.É.K. is the Hungarian abbreviation of Boldog új évet kivánok , which means ‘I wish you a happy new year’.

Dutch holidays in Hungary If you live in Hungary, you can go to the Dutch Embassy and have yourself registered as a Dutch citizen abroad (you may need a residence permit for this). From that moment on, you will be invited to all important Dutch holidays, including the traditional Orange Drink for Queen’s Day.

Parties and local festivities

  • January/February January 1: New Year’s concert at the Vigadó in Pest.
  • January 6: Epiphany. Beginning of Lent and ball season, which lasts until Ash Wednesday.
  • Last Sunday of Lent: busójárás procession in Mohács.
  • March/April Third week of March: Budapest Spring Festival. Largest art festival of the year, lasts ten days. Performances by orchestras and soloists, in the field of classical and modern music, opera and theater premieres as well as exhibitions. Similar events in Pécs, Györ, Szeged, Debrecen, Sopron, Kecskemét and Szombathely.
  • May Mid-May: Industria – international trade fair in Budapest for investment goods.
  • Last week of May: book festival week. In all major towns, publishers offer their publications for sale in stalls. Last weekend in May: opening of the season at Lake Balaton with sporting events in both Balatonfüred and Siófok.
  • June The month of final exams at secondary schools and universities. Large portraits of the candidates and their teachers can be seen in the shop windows.
  • First week of June: Pentecost festival of the Hungarian Germans in Pécs.
  • Since the withdrawal of the Soviet troops (June 19, 1991), the Budapest Fair has been the name of a popular festival held in the capital in the 3rd weekend of June.
  • Every year on June 29, the countries through which the Danube, the longest river in Europe, flows, celebrate ‘Danube Day’.
  • June-July: festive weeks in Sopron. A series of music and museum events and art manifestations: in Sopron and the surrounding area.
  • June-August: Summer universities in Budapest, Debrecen, Eger, Esztergom, Kecskemét, Keszthely, Miskolc, Pécs, Sárospatak, Sopron, Szeged and Szombathely.
  • Concerts with music by Beethoven in Martonvásár in the park of Brunswick Castle.
  • July: Teátrum: Commedia dell’arte performances on the open-air stage of the Fötér (main square) of Szentendre. Fair market on Jakobsdag in Szántódpuszta (C4) on Lake Balaton.
  • July-August: Performances of music by Haydn and Mozart in Fertöd in Esterházy Palace, where Joseph Haydn was appointed Kapellmeister. Opera performances in the open-air theater of Margaret Island in Budapest, with the participation of renowned Hungarian and foreign artists.
  • End of July – 20 August: open-air performances in Szeged. Opera, ballet, theater and also folklore on Szeged Cathedral Square.
  • Early August: equestrian tournament in Kiniszi Castle in Nagyvázsony.
  • Last Sunday in July: Anna’s ball in Balatonfüred with participants from a number of different countries and the election of the beauty queen.
  • Last week of July/first week of August: international Bártok seminar in Szombathely with music companies and critics.
  • August 19-20: Hortobágyer bridge market with equestrian tournament.
  • August 20: Flower Festival in Debrecen. A colorful parade through a part of the city with beautiful flower carpets
  • September: Third week of September: grape harvest ball in Eger. Also international autumn fair for consumer goods in Budapest.
  • End of September: grape harvest in Badacsony, on Lake Balaton.
  • October: Month of the Museum throughout Hungary with new exhibitions.
  • First week of October: Budapest art weeks.
  • Holidays in Hungary

Public Holidays Hungary

  • New Year’s Day 01-01
  • Epiphany Varies Beginning of Lent and ball season, which lasts until Ash Wednesday.
  • Name day Piroska 18-01
  • Name day Agnes 21-01
  • Valentine’s Day 14-02
  • Name day Juliana 19-02
  • Women’s Day 08-03
  • Name day Ildikó 10-03
  • National holiday: Independence Day (1848), 15-03, Commemoration of the 1848 uprising
  • Easter Monday, Varies
  • Easter Monday, Varies
  • Labor Day, 01-05
  • Europe Day, 09-05
  • Mother’s Day, Varies
  • Whit Monday, Varies
  • Whit Monday, Varies
  • Name day Anna 26-07
  • Name day Krisztina 05-08
  • Name day Ilona 18-08
  • National holiday, 20-08, Constitution Day, name day of 1st Hungarian King István
  • Name day Maria, 12-09
  • Name day Teréz, 15-10
  • National holiday, October 23, Republic Day (foundation of the republic 1989 and uprising 1956)
  • All Saints Day (Mindenszentek), 1-11
  • Name day Elzsebet, 19-11
  • Name day Katalin, 25-11
  • Advent, Varies
  • Saint Nicholas, 06-12
  • Name day Eve & Adam, December 24
  • Christmas Day, December 25
  • Boxing Day, December 26
  • New Year’s Eve, December 31