Archive for December, 2011

Hello! This will be a shorter post (I hope!). I hope everyone has made a nice transition into December, as we’re drawing into our last month here. As people around the world are preparing for the winter holidays, Europeans are no exception, specifically here in Hungary. On November 30th for example, we celebrated Andy’s ‘name day.’ The ‘name day’ is one of the Hungarians’ strongest traditions. Each day of the year, there are one or two Hungarian names that get celebrated, each day being a different name. A name-day is like a birthday. And people always know who’s name-day it is, because Hungarian calenders come with the names printed on the days. So old friends call each other, families gather together, you usually receive gifts, and chocolates, or flowers. Luckily, Andy and I both got traditional Hungarian names, and even though people give us funny looks when we say them (i.e. “Yeah it’s pronounced No-Amy, not Nay-Omy or No-Emi”) We get to have something of a second birthday. My name-day is on April 22nd for instance, along with another Hungarian name on that day: Csilla.

We also celebrated the first and second days of the Advent, by making Advent wreaths. The first Sunday of Advent was November 27th. Then, each Sunday until Christmas, we light one more candle. The 4th of December was the second Sunday, so we lit two candles. And there are four candles in all. The wreath is made of pine branches, typically decorated with ribbons, holly berries, silver and gold chains, and the candles.

Today was also St. Nicholas Day, we Americans call him Santa, Hungarian children call him Mikul├ís. Last night, children across the country cleaned out their best pair of boots or shoes, and put them on the windowsill. This morning, they found their shoes full of presents. Things like nuts, oranges and apples, chocolate, and small toys are common. It’s sort of like our tradition with stockings hanging over the fire, except they do it on the sixth of December, instead of the 25th. What did we get? Well Andy’s shoes contained a pineapple, mine a pommelo (A grapefruit type thing). We saw the fruits hiding inconspicuously on the kitchen counter the day before, so it wasn’t much of a surprise, but we gobbled them up anyway.

The Christmas Village is also a large step in getting ready for Christmas. Most of the bigger towns and cities have there own ‘village.’ It’s a small market, usually with a light display, and homemade goods and candies, and boiled wine being sold. (Boiled wine is a specialty, containing cinnamon and cloves. My dad tells me it tastes like apple cider, just with alcohol.) The Christmas Village is typically opened the first week of December. My Grandma, “Mama,” is already preparing her recipes for Christmas. This weekend we celebrate my dads’ birthday, and next week we head back up to Budapest, hopefully in the snow, to meet some family friends who decided to come and join us for a while in Europe.

Hmmm… Well that’s all I have to say on this subject at the moment, but I do want to say, in the category of road-schooling, that now, entirely without my permission, my brain mixed up a language setting somewhere and I’m reading and writing and even partly dreaming in Hungarian. The speaking was always easy, but I had never quite been able to write it, and reading a sentence could take ages. But now it’s almost as good as my English. I suppose it comes naturally, now that we have been immersed in the language for so long, but it still took me as a surprise. The good thing at least, about Hungarian, is that they spell everything just the way it sounds, which makes it easier to read if you can sound it out.


Well this wasn’t as short as I’d hoped, seeing as it took me nearly an hour to write this, and it wasn’t about travel, just life in general. But I’m glad I finished it now. Whew!





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