Christmas Eve

Budapest Travel Blog

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Budapest Christmas Fair
Hungarians have slightly different Christmas traditions than in the States. Here Christmas Eve is the day to celebrate with the family and also the day to open presents. Santa Claus doesn’t come down the chimney at midnight to deliver presents, rather, Baby Jesus puts them under the tree.

We started the day at the Vaci Utca to walk around and visit with relatives. The Vaci Utca is one of the main shopping areas in the city and at the end is the Vorosmoty Square, where the Christmas Fair is being held. We got there a little late as everything was winding down, people wanted to get home to be with there families and start on the Christmas festivities.

We did, however, take a while at Gerbaud’s, the famous café. One of the highlights of the Christmas Fair is the Advent Calendar display at Gerbaud’s.
Advent calendar at Gerbaud's
At 5 o’clock on each day of Advent, a different piece of art painted by a Hungarian artist is shown on one of the windows of the building. Music plays and the building is lit up with brilliant lights. Being the 24th, all of the art was already displayed and magnificently lit up. The travel board does a great job promoting the city and getting people to visit this area.

In Hungary, the preparations of the day are very traditional. Desserts are set out consisting of tiny little cakes and pastries which can be snacked on throughout the day. Wine and alcohol also starts flowing. At around 3 o’clock, the tree is brought into the house and decorated by the males in the family. The females are in the kitchen preparing the Christmas meal and depending on the size of the meal, start rather early in the morning.
Our Christmas tree with real lit candles
This whole process takes a few hours and everyone seems to know his or her roles. While this is going on, presents are snuck under the tree, so for the kids, it’s a surprise how they got there.

Right before dinner, the tree is revealed and presents are given out. What I liked most about the Christmas tree is that there are lit candles and sparklers on them. Seems like a fire hazard to me, but those Hungarian like to live on the edge (as long as there is a fire extinguisher handy). Another thing about the tradition is that the presents are not wrapped, just a small card designating who the present belongs to. This eliminates all the extraneous paper waste. Good idea to me.

The traditional Hungarian Christmas meal consists of fish soup, there is no meat served in preparation for Christmas day.
Hanging animal parts at the Budapest Christmas Fair
The fish soup is served with bread, being Asian, it’s weird not to have fish soup without rice (those wacky Hungarians). The soup was fantastic, it’s slowly cooked throughout the day in a red broth and the fish is carp, which is a fatty fish and gives the soup a wonderful flavor. We killed about 3 bottles of wine, a bottle of champagne more than a few shots of palinka.

After dinner, the rest of the night is spent being with family, watching the kids enjoy their gifts, snaking on the little desserts and drinking more wine and palinka.

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Budapest Christmas Fair
Budapest Christmas Fair
Advent calendar at Gerbauds
Advent calendar at Gerbaud's
Our Christmas tree with real lit c…
Our Christmas tree with real lit …
Hanging animal parts at the Budape…
Hanging animal parts at the Budap…
Budapest Christmas Fair
Budapest Christmas Fair
Christmas Tree
Christmas Tree
Original Hungarian artwork
Original Hungarian artwork
Side street at the Vaci Utca
Side street at the Vaci Utca
Kids with pyrotechnics.
Kids with pyrotechnics.
Budapest
photo by: Chokk