Budapest, Hungary, New Year's Eve - Global Storybook

New Year’s Eve in Hungary – Traditions, Superstitions and Lucky Meals

Gábor Gombás

Gábor Gombás

Gábor Gombás is the Local Contributing Writer at Global Storybook (Hungary).

Gábor was born and raised in Hungary. He has recently moved to Budapest and instantly became enamoured of the fast-paced city life with its vibrant sights and restaurants.

Gábor currently studies law, and he also works as a part time translator and ecommerce entrepreneur.

He's a huge fan of football, as well as electronic music in all its shapes and forms. He also loves traveling, craft beer and whiskies.
Gábor Gombás

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First things first, you should probably celebrate the New Year’s Eve with your friends, family or just about anyone who happens to be close to you.  But if you plan to celebrate it in Hungary, no matter where you are – you won’t be bored.

To Hungarians this night is both – a night of celebration with the rest of the world, as well as a night full of rich cultural traditions.  Opening a bottle of champagne with the masses once the clock strikes midnight, is part of the more modern way of celebrating.  Meanwhile, some Hungarians will still follow some ancient customs.

But before we get to the partying though – there are few things that you should keep in mind, if you want to understand more about how Hungarians celebrate their New Year’s Eve bash.  And that includes our national traditions, customs, superstitions and even some… lucky meals.

Budapest, Hungary, New Year's Eve - Global StorybookHungarian New Year’s Eve Superstitions

The New Year’s Eve is called ’’Szilveszter’’ in Hungary, since December 31st is the name day for ‘Sylvesters’ and Hungarians, like some other nations, celebrate ‘name days’.  In fact, the New Year’s Eve in Hungary is surrounded with various superstitions.  And they’re all about bringing wealth, luck and fortune for the upcoming year.  For example, Hungarians generally avoid seeing a doctor on the New Year’s day, as it is said to make us healthy during the entire year.

Some other popular superstitions include the following actions:

  • washing one’s face with cold water early in the morning
  • making a lot of noise in the house to scare off the evil demons
  • avoiding arguments with anyone
  • and finally, not removing anything from one’s house on the New Year’s Day

Kissing your significant other as the clock strikes midnight is another popular custom in Hungary, as well as in many other parts of the world.  All in all, there’s much to keep in mind if you want to start the new year on a lucky note.

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Lucky Meals on the New Year’s Eve

Hungary gives food a key role in its local celebrations.  And the New Year’s Eve is no exception.  We do not leave it up to fate.  We believe that one can easily increase one’s chances of having a great new year by eating… a lucky meal.  Traditionally, you will find a lentil soup, roasted pork or kocsonya at our festive dinner.  We believe that it will bring a prosperous new year since the pork’s fat symbolizes wealth.  Hungarians also say that, the more lentils you eat at the dinner – the richer you will get during the next year.

Pigs also generally symbolize luck and progress.  It is important to mention korhely soup, a locally recognized hangover cure – although I would not recommend it for breakfast.  In addition to the above mentioned dishes, Hungarians generally do not eat chicken and fish on the New Year’s Day.  Since fish can ’”swim away’” and chicken can ’”scratch away” your luck.  I know it sounds crazier and crazier as I go on.

Oh and, did I mention that it’s also common to throw small straw dolls into the water in an effort to bid farewell to the cold Winter days?

Juicy pork bbq ribs, Hungary, New Year's Eve celebrations - Global StorybookThe New Year’s Eve celebrations in Hungary and especially in Budapest include fireworks, partying and huge festivites.  The streets of Budapest would be filled with open-air parties, which would be attended by countless people, armed with whistles, confetti and noisemakers.

There are also quite a few popular public events and concerts.  You cannot go wrong with Deák Square or Vörösmarty Square.  One thing is certain – it doesn’t matter if you’re looking for something stylish, relaxing or even wild, you will definitely find a great range of excellent choices in Hungary.

The New Year’s Eve Celebrations in Budapest

People in Budapest love to party all year round and hence it’s no different with the New Year’s Eve.  Unfortunately, most of the parties sell out as early as November.  But, there are also numerous others which will take place outdoors.  Because of these excellent “random” parties you don’t even need to worry about booking a spot early.  In addition, most places host amazing New Year’s Eve fireworks throughout the evening.  Though the biggest bang comes at midnight once the countdown begins.

The Fun Parties

Among the most popular and well-known places are the Szechenyi Baths, where a Budapest Bath Party is held every year on the 30th.  It is especially recommended for the 30 and above age group.  Since it’s probably the best option for those who want to splash around in a huge thermal pool.  You will definitely have a lot of fun.

Szechenyi Baths, New Year's Eve, Budapest, Hungary - Global Storybook

The famous Szechenyi Baths, one of the top attractions of Budapest

If you love boats rides, as well as partying on ships – you will be able to choose from a wide variety of New Year’s cruise events which will sail around Danube.  Trust me, the sights are unforgettable.  Though the best part is that you can choose from a big number of party options.

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If you like clubs, then stop by the Oktogon, where popular Hungarian DJs will keep playing up until the morning lights.  Some other great clubs are: A38 Music Club, Corvintető and Morrison’s 2.

The most popular event of the New Year’s day has to be the Chamber Concert at the Danube Palace, performed by the Hungarian Folk Ensemble and Orchestra.  It’s a truly great way to ring in a new year and to relax after an eventful evening.

The Fireworks

Most people would assume that Budapest celebrates the New Year’s Eve with huge fireworks, like most other capital cities.  It’s true.  However, while the New Year’s fireworks are pretty spectacular, they don’t come even close to the huge fireworks that the city throws on August 20th.

That said, there are numerous smaller fireworks which you will see around Danube.  In addition to more than a few random “home-made” firework shows, ignited around different neighborhoods.

Budapest, Hungary, New Year's Eve - Global StorybookThe National Anthem

Finally, the party will be interrupted by a minute of silence and remembrance once the clock strikes twelve.  Before the toast to a new year, the national anthem will be played on television, radio, as well as sang loudly both indoors and outdoors.  Everyone stands up and sings the melody, in hopes that it will bring happiness, luck and blessings.

This particular switch of mood is a very Hungarian thing, in case you wonder.  Even the wildest parties can come to a complete halt, since all Hungarians share a great love for our country.  So don’t be surprised that when the anthem is over, everything will go back to normal as if nothing has happened.

Prepare your lungs in advance and you’re going to have an absolute blast!

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