Technically No. Thanksgiving is not a nationally celebrated festival in Hungary as it is in the more western side of the world. It means there is no official holiday for this festivity. So, Budapest – being the stunning capital of Hungary obviously does not celebrate it as a national holiday either.
But! It is not uncommon to find many restaurants, bars and other businesses cater to those who do celebrate thanksgiving while staying in Budapest. Especially expats who come from the USA and Canadian region.
So if you celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday spiritedly every year, and you don’t want to break the traditions while you are in Budapest, then fear not! While you may not exactly have a holiday – or a complete turkey to put in the oven for the feast, you can still enjoy its lively celebrations in the form of many things in Budapest.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Thanksgiving?
- 2 How is Thanksgiving Celebrated?
- 3 Budapest Over Thanksgiving
- 4 Which Countries Celebrate Thanksgiving As a National Holiday?
- 5 Most Popular Holidays Celebrated in Budapest (Hungary) & Their Holiday Traditions
What is Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving holidays are something the whole world has become rather familiar with thanks to their association with Hollywood entertainment. But despite seeing the big fat turkey sitting in the middle of a table, with the family gathered around it, all ready to enjoy some seriously delicious-looking food, we don’t really understand the true meaning of thanksgiving (apart from giving thanks, which is literally in the name)
As the years went on, the celebration also transformed into a holiday of giving thanks and appreciating what they have in their lives and offering the less fortunate charity through church programs and more.
How is Thanksgiving Celebrated?
Its celebrations mainly revolve around the autumn harvest. However, most thanksgiving holidays enjoyed today centre around cooking a lovely bountiful meal for family and friends and celebrating the holiday by giving thanks and reflecting on things they are grateful for. But each nation that enjoys this holiday brings its own version of traditions and rituals to the table – along with the food (obviously).
Budapest Over Thanksgiving
No thanksgiving means no national holiday in Budapest. (Sorry!)
Ok, real talk. Although Thanksgiving hasn’t been officially named a holiday, many in Budapest treat this as a secular festive day where many businesses give special promotions to make this day more joyful to those who celebrate their native holiday traditions while being so far away from home. It’s a more subtle, soft form of celebration even.
While you may have a bit of a challenge finding a full turkey to put in the oven (it’s not something that could be easily found in Budapest, so it’s always important to make early arrangements with your local meat buyer) but you can still find different turkey parts along with other scrumptious meal preparations to make your thanksgiving much closer to home.
You might be interested in this related article: Does Budapest have an Old Town?
Which Countries Celebrate Thanksgiving As a National Holiday?
The United States of America, Canada, Saint Lucia, Liberia and Grenada celebrate Thanksgiving in the form of a national holiday. Which is pretty awesome, because who does not love a good holiday?
The United States of America
It is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. While there is much cultural significance attached to it, it is now celebrated more as a secular holiday, embracing the more festive sides of it – leaving aside the more traditional rituals. Many in the United States who celebrate thanksgiving follow it under the tradition and activities modelled by the harvest feast shared amongst the natives (Wampanoag people) and the pilgrims (the English colonists) of Plymouth in 1621. It is an annual holiday event that basically honours the harvest season as well as a shared feast that took place between the natives and the pilgrims.
Some of the main traditional foods enjoyed in a proper thanksgiving include a fully cooked turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and not forgetting the pumpkin.
In New York, Thanksgiving comes with a much-awaited Thanksgiving Day parade. It is one of the most awaited parades, and it has been carried out traditionally since the start of the mid-twentieth century.
Here, thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October. Unlike the United States, Canada celebrates thanksgiving a little more differently. Football and parades are smaller, less significant events, and it is not spiritedly enjoyed nationwide.
Like their American neighbours, Canada also celebrates the holiday and enjoys a fully baked maple-glazed turkey, with a good stuffing and a rich gravy – not forgetting the cranberry sauce and the yummy Brussel sprouts. It is pretty much the same and quite frankly what yummy dreams are made of.
In St Lucia, the date of the celebration is a little bit different. Thanksgiving falls on the first Monday of October. But like Canada, in St Lucia, the thanksgiving festival roots itself in the nation’s autumn harvest festivals, and it pays homage to century’s old harvest rituals.
There aren’t a lot of major public events like in the US, the locals get together with their families, go to the beach, enjoy a feast, attend church ceremonies and make the most of the festivities, and since it’s St. Lucia, it’s already a celebration.
Grenada on the other hand celebrates Thanksgiving on the 25th of October. Like the US and Canada, the celebrations revolve around having a lovely feast with family and friends. There will also be a lot of ceremonial feasts taking place in churches. However, when travelling more to the rural sides of Grenada you might not see a lot of celebrations.
Finally, there is Liberia. Here, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the 3rd of November. It is the only African country that celebrates the festivities of Thanksgiving as a national holiday.
If you are in Liberia, get ready to experience Thanksgiving with a difference. Instead of a full turkey with the stuffing, gravy, the cranberry sauce, the Liberians are bringing in the mashed cassava, jollof rice, chicken and every flavour-packed, West African style dish you could not think of. The real question is, are you ready to experience a unique Thanksgiving in Liberia.
Most Popular Holidays Celebrated in Budapest (Hungary) & Their Holiday Traditions
Ok, so Thanksgiving might not take the number one spot in Budapest or any part of Hungary. But, if you want to be a part of a festive celebration that gets the whole place buzzing with un-ending excitement, a holiday festival that creates high levels of festive vibes, then you are looking to celebrate your Easter in Budapest.
After Good Friday takes place, Easter usually falls on the 12-13 of April. This is not just a major celebration in Christianity but a BIG one in many nations devoted to Christianity – Which obviously includes Hungary and so Budapest as well.
In Hungary, Easter comes with many super fascinating local traditions. One of the traditions that are still enjoyed in its rural regions – is the water bath/sprinkling of women – I know, it sounds weird but hear us out.
During Easter time, the men/boys will go around sprinkling/splashing the womenfolk in the neighbourhood with water – or even perfume, and in return, the women will present them with painted eggs/ some yummy treats they made at home or a shot of alcohol. It seems fun, but, kind of an unfair bargain – but that’s just me.
Another exciting tradition enjoyed in Budapest and many parts of Hungary is the Traditional Easter Fair. It’s the best place to find an abundance of traditional Easter dishes locally enjoyed, like ham, pickled horseradish and lamb, loaves named kalács, and so much more.
Of course, Budapest and other more urbanized regions also follow the more modern traditions like painting eggs and going on Easter egg hunts. It is a definite feast during Easter.
This holiday usually falls on May 1st, and it is normally celebrated universally. It’s a day devoted to the Labour community. A day to pay homage to the workers of the nation and all the incredible work that has been further contributing to the development of a nation. But here in Budapest and all of Hungary – it’s a time to pay homage AND have a big jolly celebration.
Labour Day Traditions
This national holiday is a celebration of work. It is reserved for family events, concerts and live festivities that go on till late at night – which is pretty cool.
Saint Stephen’s Day (Founder of the Hungarian State)
This national holiday is dedicated to the canonization of King Stephan I, a day to honour the very foundation of Hungary. It falls on August 20th, and it is also known as Constitution Day, so it’s a pretty important day for all Hungarians.
St. Stephen’s Day Traditions
How is this usually celebrated in Budapest and other regions of Hungary? With incredibly ornate fireworks, and lively holiday markets for the people to feast and enjoy! Not forgetting the St Stephen’s Day parade, the passing out ceremony of the Military, and the most nationally significant tradition of hoisting the Hungary National Flag.
If you are in Budapest at this time, you might just be able to go witness the wonderful traditions and ceremonial rituals conducted during the parade pretty up close.
Well now that we established that Easter is a major deal in Budapest and all of Hungary, it would be quite shocking if Christmas was not on the list – after all, this is a holiday that’s a super big deal in almost every nation across the world. If you are in Budapest during the Christmas holidays then you are in for a serious treat.
Christmas Day Traditions
Christmas is more of a three-day celebration. Which starts on the night of the 24th – the holy night, and continues till the end of 26th December. The decorating of the Christmas tree, getting together with family and friends to enjoy a scrumptious feast, attending midnight mass, all of these are richly celebrated traditions of Christmas, in Budapest and all of Hungary.
Here’s a fun fact – unlike most western and other European countries, Hungarians don’t exactly believe in Santa. In fact, the Hungarian tradition holds that it’s baby Jesus that delivers the presents. It may be a lot to ask from an infant – even if it’s a divine being.