Today is : Wednesday,26th Jun 2019

Instead of Halloween, Hungarians head to the cemeteries for All Soul's Day

Unlike the fun parade that is American Halloween, All Saints' Day and All Soul's Day in Hungary are holidays that address the dead in a rather different way.

 

Written by Natalie Jaro

 

Otherwise known as ‘Halottak Napja’ ‘the day of the dead’ or ‘the day of remembrance’, All Soul’s Day and All Saints’ Day are two of the more popular holidays in Hungary that people celebrate. It’s a sentimental kind of national holiday in Hungary that lasts two days, the 1st and 2nd of November after fall has taken hold and the winter is soon upon us. Unlike the fantastical representation of everything dark, sinister and frightening, like the American holiday of Halloween, death is nothing unusual here. Halloween is not celebrated in central Europe but All Saints’ Day and All Soul’s Day is, they are comparable but radically different. Instead of glorifying the world of the dead by dressing up in ghoulish apparel, the Hungarians first honor the dead saints and then go and visit the hallowed ground upon which their past family members have been laid to rest.

Hungarians don’t carve pumpkins into faces or ride around on brooms either. The word ‘Halloween’ derives from an old English phrase, ‘All Hallows’ Eve’ and is comparable in Hungary to Halloween only in so much as it involves food and wicks that flicker. All Saints’ Day and All Soul’s Day aren’t for dressing up in a costume or bobbing for apples either. All Saints’ Day was moved by Roman Catholic church leaders from March to November 1rst in the year 835 AD to divert attention from the pagan traditions of the Druid’s similar holiday—Samhain, the Celtic New Year when the spirits of the dead returned to converse with the spirits of the living. Hungarian culture does speak of a halottlátó or ‘death seer’ who generally is an elderly woman who can communicate with the souls of the recently departed and in this, All Soul’s Eve divines a little magic. As a Catholic nation since the 11th century, Hungary takes the holiday to heart as public establishments close for the purpose of allowing people to travel to churches for services and/or for families to visit grave sites. At the churches in Hungary, Catholics pray and hold to the conviction that through prayer and self-denial the faithful can hasten the deliverance of souls from purgatory and into heaven. The Catholic doctrine teaches that some Catholics still have a kind of purification process that they must undergo after dying before they reach heaven. The prayers of living Catholics are believed to lighten the way for those living in purgatory.

Unlike American children who go in search of candied treats from door to door for Halloween, Hungarians go to cemeteries with bright yellow chrysanthemums and light red votive candles to decorate the graves of their beloved departed. Some people even leave food and drinks for their prior loved ones. Special masses are held in many churches all over Hungary to uphold the memory of the Christian martyrs and saints. Sometimes a parish priest will say prayers and blessings at people’s gravesites. The night of All Soul’s Day is one of the biggest times for flower sellers, they line the entrances of the cemeteries making it easy to purchase flowers and candles burn brightly in the dark. If you don’t have anyone to visit at the cemeteries that you know personally visit famous cemeteries like Kerepesi Cemetery coined a ‘decorative’ cemetery that contains ancient wooden graves known as ‘kopfa’ that date back to the original Magyars, carved boats symbolizing the journey down the river of death. Kerepesi Cemetery is also the resting place of many influential Hungarian figures such as the revolutionary Lajos Kossuth, Count Lajos Batthany, Ferenc Deak, János Kádár, József Antall, Blaha Lujza and Jozsef Atilla. At the Farkasréti Cemetery, visitors can find the graves of Béla Bartok and Zoltán Kodaly. Of the saints remembered in Hungary, two of the more popular were once members of the Arpad house, the first dynasty of the Hungarian kings and include, St. Stephen King and his son, St. Imre Prince. Another honored saint was from Venice and his name was St. Gerardo. The Americans, on the other hand, instead of honoring saints or deceased relatives honor a world of their imagination, one of phantoms, and, oh yeah, of candy!

Latest Articles

» Arriba Taqueria – Fresh and Delicious Mexican Food in Budapest
In Spanish “taqueria” means “taco shop” and “Arriba” is an exclamation much like “Eureka!” two words that bring the Mexican-food taco concept honestly and enthusiastically to the tables of but two Arriba Taquerias in the city of Budapest.
» Playing online slots, internet poker in Hungary: Gambling laws and reality
A brief look at the legal status of gambling in Hungary, whether at online casinos or in bricks-and-mortar poker rooms. In short, it's all in a gray area...
» Rajan Zed - Hindus ask Europe not to make Roma a “scapegoat” for all their ills
Hindus have asked Europe to find another scapegoat in place of Roma (Gypsies) to blame for their ills and instead work on ending long time apartheid faced by them.
» Hungarian science-fiction films: Four to see, two to watch for
Hunglish writes up some of our favorite Hungarian science-fiction films plus a couple currently in pre- or post-production; the list includes the full-length motion pictures 6:3, Egon & Donci, Henry Waltz, and Thelomeris: City of Time; plus short films Doll No. 639 and Sooner or Later.
» Hungarian Photography Lecture Series in Budapest to start with Colin Ford
Lecture Series – The Works of 5 Classic Hungarian Photographers – at the Hungarian House of Photography at the Mai Manó House in Budapest starting in January 2012. Find other artistic endeavors and possibilities by mingling with those working in the field and/or attending school at this exciting photography lecture series focusing on 5 classic, Hungarian Photographers.
» Legal Representation in Hungary
Those seeking legal advice regarding criminal cases to business dealings, managing real-estate, divorce and lawsuit cases may want to turn to an experienced, talented private lawyer for help. Anikó Terék Dr. is available for consultation in Budapest and is well-educated lawyer speaking both English and Hungarian.
» Hungarian Toxic Sludge Spill
500,000 cubic meters of red mud waste has been oozing its way across Hungary since October 4th causing the evacuation of the town of Almasfuzito (50 miles north of Budapest) after a corner wall of a waste-retaining pond broke, releasing a torrent of dangerous chemicals down a local stream.
» Korda Studios open the door during festival
On Saturday and Sunday (September 24-25) the Korda Filmpark will be open from 10 A.M. - 6 P.M., with entry tickets at a 70% discount. Come visit one of Europe's most modern film studios and the new Korda Filmpark visitor's center.
» Budapest-based Corvinus MBA ranked as “Rising Star”
Corvinus University managed to 7th in the international ranking. The Full-time MBA Program of Corvinus University of Budapest made it into the top ten of the Rising Stars 2010 ranking of Findyourmba.com.
» Roma to be placed in Camps in Hungary?
An initiative supported by the Far-Right Hungarian Party continues to mount in favor of putting Roma (also known as Gypsies) into highly-controlled camps by force, and some, for life.