1. Eat lentil stew on New Year’s Day
Hungarians love lentil stew, but it’s a tradition to eat it on New Year’s Day. You can even go right ahead and eat it just after midnight on New Year’s Eve too. Basically, for Hungarians, the reason to eat lentil stew on January 1 is so that you’ll be beautiful and rich all year long. Too easy!
2. Check the weather on February 2
It’s notoriously hard to predict the weather in Hungary, but Hungarians say that if the weather is good on February 2 it’s going to be a long winter. The story goes something like this: if it’s sunny on February 2 the bears come out of their winter hibernation, they see their long shadows, and decide to go back to their caves for more slumber. It’s said that the bears go back to sleep for more 40 days, so this means that spring will only arrive once that additional 40 days are up, so spring will arrive a bit late.
3. “Sándor, József, Benedek – zsákban hoznak meleget”!
This rhyme in Hungarian says that Sándor, József, Benedek (whose name days are celebrated on March 18, 19 and 21) bring with them warm weather, but also forecast summer temperatures. For example, if there’s thunder on March 21 then it will be a dry summer.
4. Sprinkle (or throw) water on girls at Easter
Be a good sport if you’re a man. It is a Hungarian tradition to throw water or spritz perfume on women at Easter. It’s said to help the woman’s fertility, so what the hell!
5. Hungary’s version of April Fool’s Day
Hungarians call April 1 “Bolondok Napja”. Like in many other cultures the Hungarians play little pranks and pull jokes on others, especially in the morning.
6. August 20 weather forecast
August 20 forecasts the weather for the next 40 days; this means that whatever the weather is like on this day – so it will be for the next 6 weeks. There are many Hungarian folk traditions that relate to harvesting and what the dates say about the harvest. Along these lines: if the weather is good on Stephen Day then the fruit harvest will be plentiful, if the weather is bad the harvest won’t be good either.
7. Lőrinc Day marks the end of watermelon season
Lőrinc Day on September 5 marks the end of watermelon season because after that day the watermelon becomes over-ripe and that slushy consistency. It’s said Lőrinc pees in your watermelon giving it that horrible texture.
8. Orsolya Day predicts Winter weather
Orsolya Day on October 21 is said to predict how cold winter will be. So the tale goes, if the weather is good on Orsolya Day, it will remain nice weather all the way until Christmas.
9. Eat goose on November 11
Many Hungarians eat goose on Márton Day (November 11) because goose is said to be extra tasty then. Many restaurants even have special goose menus for that whole week. Also, the goose eaten on Márton Day is said to have weather forecasting properties. If the breast bone of the goose you’re eating is short and brown then winter will be quite muddy, while if it’s long and white there’ll be lots of snow!
10. Be nice or you’ll get a virgács instead of sweet treats at Mikulás
Mikulás is the Hungarian version of Saint Nicholson and he’s similar to Santa Claus. He visits on December 6 and usually leaves sweet treats in the little boots children leave out for him. BUT if you’ve been naughty you’ll get a “virgács” instead, which is a bundle of little sticks and twigs that symbolises Krampusz’ weapon!
11. Luca’s Chair
On Luca Day (December 13) it’s a Hungarian superstition to start carving a wooden stool. It should be ready by Christmas and you stand on that chair at mass and you’ll be able to see who is the witch because they will grow horns. Then you have to run home as fast as you can leaving a trail of poppy seeds behind you. The witch has to pick up all the seeds so that will slow them down, but if they catch you the witch will tear you right up! If you make it home safely, you have to burn the stool.