National Holidays in Hungary
New Year’s Eve (Szilveszter) and New Year’s Day (Újév)
Besides the standard merry-making, there is also a New Year’s ball and concert at the
Hungarian State Opera House in Budapest. Stalls on the streets of Budapest sell masks
and noisy paper trumpets.
1848 Revolution Day – 1848-as Forradalom és Szabadságharc
The “Hungarian spring” – a bloodless fight for freedom against Habsburg domination which later led to war against Austria and its allies Each year on March 15, the Hungarian tricolors of red, white, and green are prominently displayed all over the country.
Easter Sunday and Monday – Húsvét
Easter is an important religious holiday in Hungary. The day before families with children
paint easter-eggs of all styles and color. Children find small gifts beside their beds early
Sunday morning. A traditional breakfast follows of easter-eggs, ham, braided cake bread,
horse-radish and hot chocolate. Many families go to church this morning to celebrate the
resurrection of Jesus Christ.
On Monday, many people carry on the tradition of “sprinkling”. While once young men
used to pour buckets of water over young women’s heads, today they spray perfume or
water and then ask for a kiss and a red egg. Painted eggs as well as chocolate-ones are
Mother’s Day – Anyák napja
Mothers receive flowers, sometimes hand-picked, and other presents, usually handmade
from their children on this day.
Labor Day – A munka ünnepe
Workers unions organize a celebration in Városliget (Budapest’s City Park) with
speeches, acrobats, clowns, food and music.
Children’s Day – Gyermeknap
Parents take children on special outings to places such as the Zoo, fun fairs, or on family
nature walks (kirándulás) in the Buda hills.
St. Stephen’s Day – Szent István napja
In the year of 1000, Hungary’s first king, the Christian St Stephen, was crowned this day,
and the Hungarian (Magyar) state was founded. Traditionally, the first bread from the new harvest is baked for this day. Parades and music are among the festivities, and an impressive fireworks show is launched over the Danube at night.
1956 Uprising Memorial Day – Az 1956-os forradalom emléknapja
This national holiday commemorates the outbreak of the people’s uprising against Soviet
domination in 1956. The new prime Minister, Imre Nagy withdrew from the Warsaw Pact of “communist” countries. Soviet troops invaded. In November, after lots of bloodshed, the Hungarian revolution was put down by the powerful Red Army of the Soviet Union. Imre Nagy and many other leaders and participants were executed by the soviet regime. Soviet troops stayed in Hungary until 1991. The country also celebrates Hungary’s new constitutional status in 1989.
Santa Claus (St. Nicholas’) Day – Mikulás
Children put their clean boots on their window-sills the night before. In the morning,
“Good” children find candy, nuts and fruit, sometimes even small toys in their boots, while
“bad” ones get bunches of twigs (virgács). Mikulás, however, never finds entirely wicked
children in Hungary.
Most kids then receive both candy and virgács.
Christmas – Karácsony
The traditional family Christmas celebration, dinner and exchange of gifts takes place on the eve of December 24th. The 25th and 26th are public holidays when relatives visit each-other. Hungarians set up their Christmas tree on the 24th, and leave it on until it lasts.Vörösmarty tér features a large Christmas tree, and there is a cheerful and cosy outside Christmas market there. Live music is often heard in the city.