Hungarian traditions and customs

What traditions and customs are there in Hungary?

Let’s get to know the customs and traditions of Hungary.


Food in daily life

Magyar kenyér (Hungarian bread) is still very important in rural and urban cuisine. For the last hundred and fifty years, wheat has been one of the most important crops for both domestic use and export.

Pig farming became the most important type of animal husbandry in the 1870s, and since then the meat and by-products of pigs have dominated the national diet.

Food customs on ceremonial occasions

Cuisine at most village weddings includes chicken soup with special csiga noodles traditionally believed to have fertility-inducing properties, goulash-stuffed cabbage, sweetened millet, sweetened rice and other rice dishes, and buttercream and other baked goods.

According to the national image, Hungarians are wine drinkers, but beer consumption is more common. Since the early 1990s, attempts have been made to familiarize the population with the region’s wines.


Hospitality involves extraordinary effort to feed and care for guests. Guests are always encouraged to enter your home first.

In the streets, it is customary for men to walk on the left side of women, ostensibly because in the past knights kept their swords on the left side and women had to stand on the opposite side of the sword. A Hungarian man first enters a pub, restaurant, cafe, or other public establishment.

Friends, family, and close acquaintances who haven’t seen each other for a while greet each other and part with pecks on the left and right cheeks. Touching the hands, arms, and shoulders of partners in conversation is common. It is customary for a woman to offer her hand first to both men of all ages and younger women and children.

The differentiated formal terms of address are rarely used among young people. Informal greeting styles and speech terms are used from the time of the initial meeting. Much less time is spent visiting and socializing in cafes and on the streets than in the past.

Body contact is quite intimate on public transportation and in shopping malls. In isolated rural settlements, villagers still stare at strangers.


Religious beliefs

According to surveys conducted in the early 1990s, 72 percent of Hungarians are Roman Catholic, 21 percent are Reformed Calvinists, 4 percent are Lutheran, nearly 1 percent are Jewish, and about 2 percent they are ‘non-denominational’ or ‘other’.

After Russia, Hungary has the largest Jewish population in its region. About 80 percent of Hungarian Jews live in the capital. About half of the Jewish population is over 65 years old.

There was an official campaign against all religions during the socialist regime. Those who openly practice a religion are discriminated against and often punished. The state closed most parochial schools and disbanded or disbanded religious orders and institutions.

After 1989 and during periods of privatization, many schools and other parish buildings were returned to churches. As compensation for confiscated property, the state financially supports parochial schools and other religious institutions.

Religious indifference and often explicitly anti-religious attitudes prevail in large sections of the population. This is a result of the lax, individualistic and atomizing policies of the last decade of socialism. Alongside the major denominations, there is a growing number of smaller Eastern sects, religious movements and religious practices, along with a growing number of followers of proselytizing Western missionaries.

Many Hungarians do not formally belong to any religion or practice it regularly, but baptisms, weddings, and funerals link them informally to churches.

Rituals and sacred places

Among the holy places of the Hungarian Roman Catholic Church are the city of Esztergom, where Saint Stephen was born; Pannonhalma, where the first Benedictine Order was founded in 996 AD; the city of Eger; and a number of provincial rural settlements and annual pilgrimage sites.

Calvinists in eastern Hungary regard Debrecen as ‘Calvinist Rome’. The religious centers for Lutherans are Budapest and Sopron. Budapest has the largest synagogue in Europe.

Death and the afterlife

In addition to traditional burial in the ground, cremation has been practiced since before World War II in special places to place funerary urns. Due to the lack of space in city cemeteries and the high cost of traditional funerals, cremation is widely practiced.

Secular celebrations

Major national holidays include August 20, commemorating the death of King Stephen. This day is also an ecclesiastical holiday. During the socialist regime (1948-1989), August 20 was renamed the Constitution Day and the New Bread Day.

Another important national holiday is March 15, which commemorates the bloodless democratic civil revolution that broke out in 1848. Since the regime change in 1989, October 23 has been a day of remembrance for the 1956 revolution, when Hungarians They rose up against the Soviet occupation. Although not an official holiday, Arad Martyrs’ Day (October 6) is an important time of remembrance.

In addition, there are numerous local commemorative celebrations, art festivals, and folk festivals. Among the many festivals and fairs are the Southern Folk Festival along the Danube, the annual Northern Region Palóc Festival, and the annual Bridge Fair. At the annual Budapest Spring Festival, there are art exhibitions and musical and theatrical events.

The arts and humanities

Arts support

Support for the arts during the socialist period was provided primarily by the state. Since 1989, there has been much less government support and more private, individual, and corporate sponsors for artists.

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