My favorite holiday is Christmas because that’s when my grandparents and my parents’ siblings’ family visit us. My mother makes really delicious Hungarian food. We surprise each other with presents. I really like this holiday because we do fun things together such as ice-skating, Christmas shopping, walking around town, watching movies and spending lots of time together as a family.  I love the feeling of the Christmas holiday because it’s very relaxed. My family always goes for long walks to the town where there is a Christmas shop.  There we drink hot chocolate and mulled wine while listening to Christmas music.  

In my town, the main square always decorates a tree in the first week of December. Most families wait to put up a Christmas tree until  December 24th because that is the Hungarian tradition. Then, on January 6th, tradition says we throw out the Christmas tree because it is believed that if the tree isn’t thrown out on time, bad luck will come to the house. 

In my house, we go to mass on Christmas morning as a family.  When we get home, father brings the tree into our house, and  my brother and I decorate it.  My mother makes us all supper. My family often decorates the tree in one color, for example the previous year was blue, the next year we will change it to another color.  In Hungary every person puts some candy on a tree called szaloncukor. This is a little chocolate that you can now buy in stores in every flavor. Szalocukor used to only be made at home and wrapped in pretty cellophane, my mother talks of how her grandmother made it when she was a little girl. The other difference is that gift-giving is done on the evening of December 24th,  after Christmas dinner. Our Christmas day tradition is that we fast all day and only eat supper.   Little kids wait for Jesus as a gift-giver, this is an old tradition. I remember when I was a little kid my parents told me and my brother we needed to go to my room because we couldn’t see the little Jesus. My brother and I always excitedly waited until we could go back to the living room where the Christmas tree and the presents from Jesus were. Before we open the presents we always twinkle the stars while listening to Christmas music. After we saw the presents together, we spoke next to the Christmas tree. 

Christmas supper is really amazing in Hungary because we have lots of delicious food. The first course usually is halászlé with bread. This is the fisherman's soup. This soup usually contains catfish, carp, or bream. 

Halászlé recipe:


  • 1 whole carp (approximately 2 kg) 

  • 400 g catfish filets 

  • 500g small fish (such as crucian carp, bream, brown bullhead) cleaned 

  • 500 g onion, finely chopped 

  • 2 tbsp of Hungarian paprika (ground) 

  • 1 sweet Hungarian pepper (or bell pepper) (optional) 

  • 1 tomato, chopped (optional)

  • salt

Directions:  Clean the carp, reserving the bones and the head. Slice the carp and the catfish into large pieces, sprinkle them with salt, and set them aside. Place the carp bones and head and all of the small fish into a large pot. Add the onions, and pour 10 liters of water to cover. Add some salt, bring to a boil, and boil continuously for at least 40 minutes. Remove from heat and add paprika. At this point, chopped tomato and pepper can be added, if desired. Return to the heat, bring back to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Push the soup through a sieve to make a dense broth, Bring the broth back to a boil and add the pieces of carp and catfish, cooking the soup at low heat until all fishes are soft. Noodles do not go well with this type of fisherman's soup. Serve with fresh bread instead. 

The second course is töltött káposzta (stuffed cabbage) or roast goose, roast turkey or roast duck with rice or potato, and stewed cabbage. My parents really like seafood so my mum often makes calamari or octopus or any other fish thing.

Töltött káposzta recipe


  • 800 g pork, ground

  • 50 g smoked bacon, ground 

  • 150 g cooked rice 

  • 1 egg

  • 1 tbsp of sweet Hungarian paprika (ground) 

  • 8 leaves of cabbage

  • 1 kg sauerkraut 

  • 1 smoked sausage, chopped 

  • 500 g smoked ham, chopped 

  • 6-8 whole black peppercorns 

  • 3 bay leaves 

  • 200 ml sour cream / crème fraîche (tejföl)

  • salt, black pepper 

Directions:  Mix the ground pork with the ground smoked bacon, egg, rice, ground black pepper, paprika, and salt. Taste the sauerkraut; if it is too salty or sour, wash it in cold water. Spread out the whole sauerkraut leaves and fold the stuffing into them. Place them in. a large pot, layered with the rest of the sauerkraut, the smoked Insert a few bay leaves and some peppercorns. Add water and simmer for 4 to 5 hours, covered. Serve with lots of sour cream / crème fraîche (tejföl) and fresh bread. sausage and meat.


The last course for Christmas dinner is desserts. We have a lot of delicious and famous desserts such as zserbó (gerbeaud cake), bejgli (roll cake), Arany Galuska (golden walnut dumplings) Dobos Torta (Dobosh Torte), mézeskalács (gingerbread). Mézeskalács is the most famous dessert or cookie, my mum and I usually make some every year, and my brother and I decorate them together. We tried to make a big gingerbread house and it was very funny because it kept collapsing so we gave up.

I really miss seeing my grandparents,spending a lot of time with family, and my brother and playing board games together. I most miss the nice long walks into town to do Christmas shopping and helping my mum in the kitchen. I hear lots of people make fudge at Christmas. I have not had this sweet, because we don’t know this recipe in Hungary. I was surprised when some people told me they set up the Christmas tree after Thanksgiving, but I really like this tradition because Christmas trees give the house such a good feeling.

I am very proud of my country’s traditions and I wish more people knew about them, because for such a small country we have so many wonderful traditions. If anybody visits Hungary during the Christmas period it is definitely worth trying these foods and going to a Christmas market because it is an incredible festive feeling.