Poppy Seeds, Witches, and Stools! Oh, My!

LucyChair

I will never look at a stool in the same way again. Last week, I was having tea with my Hungarian friend Piroska when she told me about the Lucy Chair (Luca szék). The story sounded like something out of The Wizard of Oz. Many years ago in Hungary, when things like weather and illness couldn’t be explained, men would begin making stools on December 13, St. Lucy’s Day. They had to work on the chair each day up till Christmas Eve, use nine different types of wood, and the tools could only be made of wood. Continue reading

Silver and Gold in Hungary

photo by Lennart Guillet

When I was a kid, every December I waited anxiously for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to come on TV. My family had a black and white Zenith. So, I had to take Santa’s word for it when Rudolph’s nose turned red. Since then, I figured I’ve sung “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” over 10,000 times. It’s a job requirement for teaching third graders. Continue reading

Forralt Bor: Mmmmmm!

photo by Lennart Guillet

I thought I knew how to do Christmas: decorate some cookies, write a few cards, sing along with Bing Crosby, hold back tears when nearly all of Bedford Falls packs into Jimmy Stewart’s house at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. That is until I moved to Hungary. Hungarians take Christmastime to an entirely new level. And they have a couple of wintertime pleasures that just might keep me in Hungary forever.

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How to Trick-or-Treat! :)

jack-o-lantern2

Hungarians in Hungary don’t do Halloween. Oh, you’ll see a few pumpkins at the florists and in an occasional restaurant, but for the most part, that’s about it. In Hungary, there are no Halloween aisles at the supermarkets. Hungarians don’t wear costumes to work. Kids don’t march in Halloween parades at school. And they certainly don’t trick-or-treat. In fact, except for what Hungarians see in the movies, the whole concept of walking door to door for candy is completely foreign to them. They don’t realize that trick-or-treating requires talent, skill, strategy, and finesse! This week I got into a discussion about it with a few Hungarian colleagues who listened closely as I taught them the art of trick-or-treating. Continue reading

Love

HungarianCookie

Once at school I wrote “LOVE” in giant letters on a couple of pieces of large white paper. It was the week before Valentine’s Day. “OK boys and girls,” I said to the class. “Today we’re going to decorate the letters. You may decorate them any way you’d like.” I placed the papers on the floor and handed out crayons and markers and colored pencils. The kids sat around the giant letters and began to color away. Continue reading

Steam: All I Want For Christmas

photo by Lennart Guillet

I thought I knew how to do Christmas: decorate some cookies, write a few cards, sing along with Bing Crosby, hold back tears when nearly all of Bedford Falls packs into Jimmy Stewart’s house at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. That is until I moved to Hungary. Continue reading