Hungary slowly losing tradition for the original “All Saints’ Day”
By Tobi Onuoha
In Hungary All Saints’ Day is a tradition that goes far back, but there is a sense that it has been trumped by the western tradition of Halloween.
The tradition when it comes to All Saints’ Day is to pay respect to those who have passed, saints and martyrs and visit cemeteries and light candles. Today if you visit a cemetery on October 31 or November 1 you will still see the cemeteries lit up with candles but there is a general mood shift amongst the younger generations.
Halloween on the other hand is in fact the complete opposite where people are now dressing up in costumes, knocking on doors and attending parties.
It is particularly strange that in Hungary both can be celebrated alongside each other with the clash that they represent. All Saints’ Day being a more sombre and modest event while Halloween a day of excitement and fun.
This wasn’t always the case Halloween originated from the Christian tradition also known as “All Hallows’ eve” and was influenced by the Irish sometime in the early 20th century where people began to wear costumes. This new tradition spread to America where it was popularised and then slowly the rest of the world.
Hungary only began to adopt this tradition recently after the fall of communism and the flood of western influence.
If one wants to celebrate All Saints’ Day in Hungary it is worth a visit to the local Kerepesi and Nagykovacsi cemeteries as it is quite a sight to behold. Even if one does not have loved ones buried in the cemetery there is always a place to pay respects and in most cemeteries there is a “communal cross” (usually a large statue of Jesus Christ, where people can lay candles for those who they cannot visit).
Halloween can be celebrated by visiting one of the many costume shops in Hungary, applying scary face paint or piecing together outfits from what one can find in their wardrobe. There are many parties over Halloween weekend in Budapest and all through Hungary. Some of which are aimed at the international expat community and others towards the locals. There are also many events in which competitions for the best costumes are hosted.
The question is will the newer younger generations be able to keep the original respect for the holiday or will the day of the dead be completely over shadowed by the new and exciting concept of Halloween?
In fact, it has been proven that both can be celebrated alongside each other even with the polar opposite messages they prevail. Much of the youth is known to celebrate with friends on the evening of the 31 and then pay their respects on the first.
So, how will you be spending your day this year?