Christmas Celebration in Hungary

How is Celebrate Christmas in Hungary

Christmas in Hungary is a cherished holiday celebrated with a rich blend of Christian traditions, festive customs, and unique Hungarian rituals. Here's how Christmas is typically celebrated in Hungary:


The Christmas season begins with Advent, which is marked by the lighting of Advent candles, the use of Advent calendars, and religious preparations for the holiday.

Advent Wreaths

Many Hungarian households have Advent wreaths with four candles, one of which is lit on each Sunday of Advent.

Advent Fairs and Markets

Throughout Hungary, Advent and Christmas markets (Karácsonyi vásár) are held in town squares, featuring a variety of holiday goods, crafts, and seasonal foods.

Decorating the Christmas Tree

In Hungary, it is a common tradition to decorate the Christmas tree on December 24th, which is the most significant day of the holiday season.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve (Szenteste) is the most important day of the Christmas celebration. Families come together to enjoy a festive meal, often consisting of traditional Hungarian dishes, including fish soup (halászlé) and fried fish. Some families also have stuffed cabbage rolls (töltött káposzta) or other regional specialties.


In Hungary, it is customary for families to exchange gifts on Christmas Eve. Children often receive their presents after dinner when the Christmas tree is revealed. Santa Claus, known as "Mikulás" or "Télapó," is believed to bring gifts to children.

Lighting Candles

Many Hungarians place lit candles in the window to symbolize the arrival of Jesus and to bring light into the home.

Midnight Mass

Attending a midnight Mass service (éjféli mise) is a common tradition, especially among Catholics and practicing Christians. It is a time for religious reflection and celebration.


A Hungarian Christmas would not be complete without "szaloncukor," which are traditional Christmas candies, often wrapped in colorful, decorative foil. These sweets are hung on the Christmas tree and can be enjoyed throughout the holiday season.


Carolers, known as "kántálók," visit homes to sing Christmas carols and receive treats or small gifts in return.

Crib Displays

Nativity scenes, or "Betlehem" in Hungarian, are an essential part of Christmas decorations, and many Hungarian families have their own Nativity scenes.

New Year's Eve

The holiday season in Hungary extends through New Year's Eve (Szilveszter), which is marked by fireworks, parties, and various celebrations.

Saint Stephen's Day

The day after Christmas, known as Saint Stephen's Day (Karácsony másnapja), is a public holiday in Hungary. It is a time for visiting friends and family and continuing the celebrations.

Hungary's Christmas traditions reflect a mix of Christian customs and Hungarian cultural heritage. The holiday season is a time of warmth, togetherness, and festive joy, with an emphasis on family gatherings and religious observance.

In Hungary the main Christmas celebrations take place on Christmas Eve. The evening is called Szent-este or Holy Evening. Before attending Midnight Mass, families gather around the Christmas tree to sing carols and open the presents left by Baby Jesus and the angels.

A couple of weeks before Christmas, on December 6th the children receive a visit from Mikulas or St Nicholas. He arrives wearing the robes of a bishop, with a red miter on his head, a staff in one hand and a sack full of small presents in the other. Accompanying him a "Devil" boy in a black costume, complete with horns and long tail. He holds a switch made of dry twigs, ready to smack any "naughty" children. Each child receives a small gift, usually a toy or sweets, from Mikulas.

The presenting of nativity plays is an important part of the Hungarian Christmas tradition. Performed by groups of children or adults, these plays are often combined with puppets and are accompanied by songs and musical instruments and sometimes even dancing.

Christmas in Hungary

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