Unlike other countries, such as South Africa, Christmas trees are decorated on 24th December and this is because trees are traditionally the real but smaller version of a Christmas tree. The trees have a limited lifetime to look good before they lose their color and needles.
The tradition for families with small children is changing with time, but originally families would decorate the tree before the children got home. The children were told the angels brought the tree and decorated it while they were away.
Christmas tree decorations in Hungary keeps young and old in the spirit until well after Christmas.
Traditions concerning different Christmas tree decorations have always varied throughout the world. Hungary is no exception so let’s see how Hungarians decorate Christmas trees.
Hungarian families decorate the Christmas tree with fondants (Szaloncukor) in ornate packaging and generally hung using a thin sewing thread.
Then comes the “Christmas tree harvest” that generally lasts into the New Year – that is, the family gradually consumes all the fondants hanging on the tree.
Authentic Hungarian brands such as Stühmer or Szerencsi fondants are in supermarkets during Advent.
It’s not just the fondants that go on the tree, but also any other Christmas decorations.
GINGERBREAD is another very popular Christmas tree decorations and symbolizes love.
You also have small gingerbread hearts and beautiful inscriptions (usually with a little mirror in the middle, and a love message).
I’d say Christmas tree decorations in Hungary are rather SWEET, don’t you!?
The typical festive chocolates are also handed out over the Christmas period at restaurants, at public squares, and cafés. So, don’t turn down a fondant gift by a stranger – that would be rude. If you’re lucky, you may even be gifted with a box of szaloncukor!
In the days running up to Christmas, you can expect a dear friend to drop in with a gift of handmade confectionery, and even a poinsettia plant or home-brewed palinka. In doing so friends acknowledge each other’s value. These visits do not always have to be long. In fact, a quick in and out of about 30 to 40 minutes is quite acceptable. It’s always a clever idea to have something prepared to give in return.
Christmas is very much a closed family affair in Hungary. It is the time when families get together and touch base again with their loved ones. And this is completely possible because you’ve already seen your friends in the days running up to Christmas!