The politics of Halloween in Hungary

We don’t have Halloween in Hungary, we have All Saints Day! – states the poster. Halloween is not a desirable holiday for conservative Christian Hungary.

We don’t have Halloween in Hungary, we have All Saints Day

We don’t have Halloween in Hungary, we have All Saints Day

In Hungary “Mindenszentek” (All Saints’ Day) and “Halottak Napja” (All Souls’ Day) have always been important Catholic holidays. Quite recently, in 2000, All Saints’ Day even became a National Holiday. Right wing political parties, especially Jobbik, has started a campaign against the growing trend of celebrating Halloween.

According to many conservative Hungarian Christians, Halloween is American and has no place in Hungary. Only All Saints’ Day and All Soul’s Day should be celebrated. Real Hungarians wouldn’t glorify the dead by dressing up in silly scary costumes or carving pumpkins. They dutifully pray to honor the dead Saints and then go and visit the cemeteries where their family members have been laid to rest. The liberal leftist cosmopolitan values of Halloween should be firmly rejected in Hungary! St. Steven Radio even warns Catholics of the “dangers” of Halloween. (Read here in Hungarian.)

Carved pumpkins at Heroes Square, Budapest

Carved pumpkins at Heroes Square, Budapest

Halloween is often portrayed in Budapest as the product of American consumerism. Candy companies bamboozle overweight American children to go from door to door in search of candies and other treats.

It seems that the right-wing campaign against the “American” Halloween is not very successful; the holiday is becoming increasingly popular in Hungary. In Budapest, at Heroes Square, carved and lighted pumpkins are displayed and farmers markets are also starting to sell pumpkins for carving. There are still problems with the spelling of the word Halloween; this sign reads “Halogéntök” which literally means “Halogen Pumpkin.” Oh, well.

"Halogéntök" for carving

“Halogéntök” for carving

When recently young people in the village of Csengele, Csongrád County, tried to organize a Halloween party in the cultural center – the mayor rejected them. He thought the music would be to “noisy” for All Souls’ Day. He added that Halloween is not Hungarian, it is from America and should not be allowed. (Read here.)

The struggle to recognize Halloween in Hungary continues.

György Lázár

8 Comments

  1. Lack of knowledge, national chauvinism, hypocrisy is the roots of mass stupidity.
    Halloween originates from the old Celtic celebrations, the festival of Samhain, the end of the harvest and the beginning of the Winter, a season when most elderly and the sick dies.
    However, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween.
    If Hungarians believe that Halloween (Oct. 31) is an American holiday and hate us for it, so be that way, they are just one pleasant family and neighborhood customs and happy occasion poorer and they can be gloomy and said for days instead.
    The dead deserves respect, no question and it has it’s proper place and time, All Saint’s Day still remains Nov. 1.

  2. Having lived many years in the US, Mr Bognar has a very well informed and educated opinion on this topic. Someone once said that the stupidity of mankind knows no boundaries!.

  3. Recent reports indicate that sporadic fighting has broken out in several villages over the right to carve pumpkins and distribute hard candy to frightened children eager for a dose of sugar. In one small battle ravaged village, a man named Béla carrying his “tök” (pumpkin) close to his body told onlookers that it was his right to do with his tök as he pleases. His partner, Julcsa, occasionally stroked the tök lovingly as Béla cleared a small area around himself with the aid of a pitchfork while threateningly lunging at the tök with a pen knife. “I’ll cut the tök!”, he screamed to the horror of townsfolk. Their daughter Éva, 7, dressed in ghoulish garb, cried inconsolably and claimed to be denied all access to sweets on this night by locals. Despite pleas for tricks or treats at her uncle Gyula’s tavern by the river on the edge of town, inebriated patrons of the bar mocked her entreaties and cautioned her that any sugary indulgence may threaten the precarious health of her few remaining teeth.
    Embattled pro-Halloween factions across the nation have dug in and demand their right to enact American rituals imparted through the intoxicating mediums of Hollywood. The struggle for the right to Halloween rages on as the sun sets on these freedom fighters.

  4. If Hungarians believe that Halloween (Oct. 31) is an American holiday and hate us for it

    Storm in a teacup – given that the US with its 200 something years of history has not contributed much to celebrating age-old religious feasts, it’s just the Anglo-saxon form with skulls, ghosts and whatnot that is alien to Hungarian traditions, nevertheless giving excuse to Lazar’s recent lame attempt to portray the conservative Hungarians (and their present government) as some introverted cave-dwellers.

  5. and should not be allowed.

    Cheap liar, this Lazar.

  6. Good, informative writing Gyuri and Gyula.
    Should be put out in the Hungarian version, as well.
    Truth be told I have hardly heard any Hungarian home and North America to pronounce it correctly.
    Hungarians maybe could spread the Búsójárás in all over the country. It is more appropriate for them?
    I wonder why Fidesz missing out on the lucrative pumpkin and candy business creating Nemzeti Halloween movement?:) They don’t seem to care about crumbs, maybe.
    Lila is obviously on some kind on other stuff – as usual:)

  7. I almost feel for the usual trolls, who try to depict you as a Hungarian hater and you as a bridge between Hungary and California not giving them enough to throw up at you. Just because you are not a subscriber of the only official Hungarian media of MTI gives them too little munition. It goes to Gyula, as well…
    Even Lila sounds like a starved bird:)

  8. I don’t live in Budapest, so I don’t really know what is going on there, but around where I have been for the past few years I have yet to see anything about Halloween. There is zilch. No one gives a fig about it. And why should they? People should do whatever they want in their free time. (Btw, making November 1 a public holiday is more encouraging to Halloween parties than discouraging for sure.) Criticizing a Catholic portal which is trying to inform the faithful about their own religion and how they should relate to pagan cultic stuff which comes to them in loads of movies and mistranslating a mayor is what this piece is doing, very stupidly. Let Catholics practice their religion freely and let Hungarians spend their holidays as they wish. Freedom is a liberal value, ain’t it?

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