Customs and traditions

A light kiss on both cheeks, the left one first, is the normal way to greet each other when Hungarian friends meet. Otherwise, a hand greeting will suffice, although a man who greets a woman should wait for her to reach out first.

If you become a home visitor to a Hungarian family as a foreign visitor, it is advisable to bring, for example, a box of fine chocolate or a bottle of Western liquor. Do not come with foreign wine, because it can hurt the pride of your own Hungarian wine. Flowers are also a suitable gift, but in that case an odd number, since an even number is reserved for funerals. But avoid 13, which is an accident number. Lilies, chrysanthemums and red roses are funerals to avoid.

  • Countryaah: Overview of the capital city of Hungary, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.

At a dinner party you should be on time. A maximum of five minutes late is considered acceptable. At a more open event, a half hour margin can be accepted.

Once the food has been served, you should wait until the host or hostess has started eating before you cut yourself in. Keep your hands visible, not on your knees, and do not rest your elbows on the table. Many dishes, and many accessories, are often served, and you should at least taste everything. Whoever is the guest of the dinner is expected to bring out the first dish and wish everyone’s well-being. Wineglasses are usually filled up as soon as it is empty, so anyone who does not want more should leave a small slab. When toasting with the table neighbors, it is common to tap the wine glasses lightly against each other. However, it is not considered nice to put together beer glasses.

Even though dinner is related to a business deal, business issues should be left to rest after dinner. Rather spend your meal talking about sports, culture or Hungarian wines – but not politics or religion.

Conversations, whether private or business, are often straightforward. You say what you think, albeit in a polite tone, and keep eye contact with the opposing party. Anyone who shuts their eyes can be suspected of having something to hide or being bored. It’s pretty odd to have your hand in your pants pocket when talking to someone. If, on the other hand, you want to use gestures to emphasize a perception, it should be remembered that it is considered vulgar to turn the thumb down, as well as to tie the fist with the thumb between the index finger and the middle finger.

According to Abbreviationfinder, Hungary’s most well-known contribution to the art of cooking is probably the paprika powder, which is featured in many dishes. The dish most associated with Hungarian cuisine is goulash (gulyás), a stew of beef, peppers, potatoes and other vegetables that has spread to almost all of Europe. With more liquid, the goulash casserole turns into soup. Pork with rice, also as a long-cooked stew, is popular, as is chicken with paprika and crème fraiche, paprikás csirke. Potatoes and rice often form the basis of a dish, but even more common are different kinds of noodles or other dough accessories. Hungarian food can be high in calories and is always filling.

Among desserts are pancakes, perhaps with honey or walnuts, popular, as well as other sweet pastries, fruit compotes or cold fruit soups on, for example, peach or cherry.

In Hungary, wine has been grown for thousands of years. Most famous are the red Egri Bikavér and the sweet white wines, the Tokai, from the Tokaj district in northeastern Hungary. Among the stronger alcoholic beverages are the fruit brandy pálinka, often made on apricots (barack palinka).

Although far from all Hungarians are particularly religious, they, like the Swedes, celebrate all the Christian weekends but with a rather profane tone. For young people, Easter is the highlight of the day, husvéthétfő, when boys and young men walk around the neighbors spraying water or cheap perfume over the girls after reading a little poem that the girl is like a sweet flower that must be watered so as not to wither. As a “reward”, the boys receive sweets, such as chocolate eggs.

The Christmas celebration is similar to Swedish with good food, Christmas tree and Christmas presents which, like in Sweden, are distributed on Christmas Eve. In addition, the children will receive some simpler Christmas presents already on December 6, when the site Szent Miklós (St. Nikolaus) can visit. Although the Hungarian plot looks more like a bishop, he has the same task of keeping track of which children have been kind during the year.

According to Countryaah, Hungary has two national days, nemzeti ünnep. March 15 remembers the revolution in 1848 when the Hungarians rose to Austria. It is a solemn day with memorials and music, and many people adorn themselves with a cocktail in the Hungarian colors red, white and green. On October 23, both the proclamation of the Third Hungarian Republic in 1989 and the 1956 popular uprising are celebrated.

May 1 is both the traditional working day and the memory of Hungary’s entry into the EU 2004.

On St. Stephen’s Day on August 20, Szent István király, Hungary’s first king (c. 975–1038), is celebrated with a magnificent fireworks display on the Danube beach in Budapest.

The Hungarians are avid carnival riders. The most famous carnival, Father Song, takes place in the city of Mohács at the bottom of the south, where participants dress in fur costumes and wear grotesque masks to scare away Turkish invasion forces. In Budapest there are also masquerade and more formal bales during the carnival, which is also an opportunity to chill in food like pork with sauerkraut and flounder donuts.

In Budapest, every year a festival dedicated to the wool pig, mangalica, is held, the pig which is known for its tasty meat. Sausages and other dishes made from mangalica pork are served, there is a competition to cook mangalica in the best way, and there are folk dances and drinking Hungarian spirits.

Hungary Immigration Statistics



Death attack against Roma

A Roman woman is killed and her teenage daughter is seriously shot in another assault by the right-wing group known as the Death Patrol. A few weeks later, four suspected men are arrested in the city of Debrecen. The house search suggests that the group planned more murders of Roma.


Tear gas against right-wing extremists

Police use tear gas to stop a demonstration in central Budapest by Jobbik’s banned semi-military branch, the Hungarian Guard. The guard claims to protect Hungarians against crimes committed by Roma and often demonstrates in Roman-dominated areas.

New socialist leader

The Socialist Party changes leaders again, new chair becomes Attila Mesterházy.


Right victorious in EU elections

In the election to the European Parliament, the ruling socialists suffer defeat, while the opposition party Fidesz has great success. In a time of rising unemployment, the extremist nationalist and anti-Roman party Jobbik is progressing strongly, taking up close to 15 percent of the vote three seats in Brussels.


New Prime Minister

The ruling Hungarian Socialist Party and the Liberal Wave Master Party The Peace Democrats nominate the partyless Minister of Industry Gordon Bajnai as new government leader. Before being formally approved by Parliament, tens of thousands of people in Budapest are demonstrating against the cuts already made and against Bajnai’s warnings for even tougher measures. The new head of government presents a tightening package with budget cuts, tax increases and freezing of public wages.

Right-wing extremists kill Roman man

Anti-Roma right-wing extremists kill a 53-year-old man in the town of Tiszalök.


Gas agreement with Russia

Hungary and Russia conclude an agreement for part of the South Stream gas pipeline to be built on Hungarian land. They will also agree to build an underground gas storage facility in Hungary, intended to make the country a center for Russian gas supplies.

The Prime Minister resigns

After protracted and harsh popular criticism of cuts in welfare systems, Ferenc Gyurcsány decides to resign as prime minister. He has been accused of standing in the way of a solution to the economic crisis. He also resigns as leader of the Socialist Party and succeeds in that post by Ildikó Lendvai.


Right-wing extremist attack against Roma

A 28-year-old Roman man and his five-year-old son are shot to death by right-wing extremists in the village of Tatárszentgyörgy. In 2008, the same group attacked several other Roma residential areas and killed two people.

Hungary Culture and Traditions
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