Today is December 26th and still an official holiday here in Budapest. Sadly, my parents flew back home to Toronto this morning. However, my sister and her husband are still here – woo hoo! Andrew and I are at home today and getting organized to move to our new apartment. It’s been a great couple of days, so I thought I would share what we did for our first Christmas in Budapest.
Christmas is celebrated a little differently here in Hungary compared to the typical Christmas in Canada. Santa or “Mikulas” visits on December 6th and leaves chocolates and small presents in your boots. Mikulas serves a similar purpose as the Western Santa Claus in that he keeps track of the good and bad deeds of children all over the world. This tradition is why you don’t see “Mall Santas” here at Christmas. No photo op with Santa to be found (much to my husband’s distain).
Christmas Eve is when families get together. It’s when the adults set up and decorate the Christmas tree and place the larger gifts underneath. Even in Canada as a child, I had to wait until a heard a bell ring to tell me that the angels (or Baby Jesus) brought the tree and the gifts for me. There is much more of an emphasis on advent and other Christian traditions.
In case you were wondering, the angels brought us a new flatscreen TV 😉
Our Family Christmas Eve
To celebrate our first Christmas in Budapest, I was lucky enough to have my family here from Toronto. My mother, father, sister and brother-in-law made the journey arriving in the days before. In addition to my immediate family, we also hosted my Aunt (a Budapest resident) and our friend, Wes, from the travel blog, Feather and the Wind.
We decided to celebrate at my parent’s rented apartment so they didn’t have to be the ones to travel. Like every city, its hard to get a taxi on Christmas Eve.
Rather than trying to sort out the pots and pans at an AirBnb, we decided to order dinner from one of our favourite downtown restaurants, Kiosk. Early on December 24th, Andrew and I hopped on the Number 2 tram and went to pick up one whole turkey, one whole duck and all the holiday fixings. The food was delicious. I would highly recommend their services for the future.
We ate my mother’s deviled eggs and cabbage rolls as starters. We ate tons of turkey and duck. We finished off our casual night with a shot of palinka and my Aunt’s traditional (and homemade) chestnut cake for dessert. A very happy and full bunch indeed!
Christmas Day in Budapest was GORGEOUS. Full sun and twelve degrees. We’ve had Christmases in Florida with similar weather! We wanted to have a family brunch at the Gundel Restaurant. The Gundel is located just beside City Park. Gundel is the restaurant where you can find traditional Hungarian dishes based on original recipes, served in an exceptional ambiance. For those of you reading from Toronto, it is a similar experience as going to the Old Mill for Christmas Lunch.
It was a fabulous day and I was so happy to be able to spend it with my family here in Budapest, Hungary. Missed were my step-children who celebrated Christmas in Haliburton, Ontario and Calgary, Alberta respectively. Fingers crossed to seeing them here for the holidays sometime soon.