Lucy’s day tradition in Hungary

Lucy’s day tradition in Hungary

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Luca-napi hagyományok, hogy angolul is tudj beszélni róluk.

According to Lucy’s day tradition on December 13 we remember Saint Lucy. With the introduction of the Gregorian calendar the longest night of the year fell on Lucy’s day, and that is why popular belief connected it to evil forces. There are very few days in the Hungarian calendar with a comparable variety of customs, beliefs, divinations and prohibitions attached to it. The popular belief knows two kinds of Lucies: the good one and the witch, the latter being more popular in the folklore. Let’s see why this is the most exciting day of the advent, the period of preparations for Christmas!

According to the Lucy’s day tradition witches and wizards are wandering around, and people must hide from them. Even farm animals must be protected: their head is rubbed with garlic, and a cross is drawn at the door of their stable. Ashes are thrown in front of the gates, and people eat bread with garlic to scare away the evil ghosts with the smell. The brooms are hidden as to prevent the witches from flying around on them.

Let’s see who the witch is!

The most widely known custom of Lucy’s day tradition is making Lucy’s chair. 13th December is the day when people start carving it, but only one procedure of making it is allowed a day.  Yet the chair must be ready by Christmas Eve. It is taken to the midnight mass and if someone stands on it, they ll see the witches.

Boys and girls in Lucy’s day tradition

For this day girls prepare 12 dumplings and hide a different man’s name in each of them. The dumplings are cooked, and the first one to come to the surface of the boiling water holds the name of their future husband. It was customary for boys to play pranks on Lucy’s day. They for example mixed up and changed gates, or they disassembled a wagon and assembled it on one of the roofs. The prank was then blamed on the witches.

Even the weather and the harvest could be foretold this day

Lucy’s calendar is part of the old Hungarian Lucy’s day tradition. It was said that the weather in January of next year will be roughly the same in that region as on Lucy’s day (December 13). The day after Lucy’s foretold the weather of February and so on until Christmas, which stood for the weather of next December.

The székelys foretold the weather from onions. They peeled off twelve layers of an onion, symbolizing the twelve months of the year. They poured some salt onto every layer. If the salt melted in a layer, that month would be rainy, while the rest would be dry.

Next year’s harvest was predicted from the sprouting of Lucy’s wheat. Wheat seeds were put to germinate near the oven, which would grow green by Christmas. Later, the altar was decorated with the wheat sprouts.

Halloween pumpkin or Lucy’s pumpkin?

In Hungary, mainly on the Transdanubia, it was customary to make a lit Lucy’s pumpkin. On Lucy’s day the eyes, the nose and the smiling mouth were carved into the pumpkin. People placed the pumpkins in front of the windows to scare each other. At nightfall, a candle was put into Lucy’s pumpkin for a more frightening effect.

source: itshungarian.com

Here are a few word definitions. Can you tell the word? All of them are from the text.

1. a woman thought to have evil magic powers, popularly depicted as wearing a black cloak and pointed hat, and flying on a broomstick

2. the calendar introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII, as a modification of the Julian calendar

3. a small mass of leavened dough cooked by boiling or steaming

4. any of various kinds of four-wheeled vehicles designed to be pulled

5. a church service celebrated at or shortly before midnight, especially on Christmas Eve

Key

1. witch

2. Gregorian calendar

3. dumpling

4. wagon

5. midnight mass

Vocabulary

introduction

bevezetés

Gregorian calendar

Gergely-naptár

popular belief

néphiedelem

evil forces

gonosz erők

comparable

hasonlítható

custom

szokás

belief

hit

divination

jövendölés, jóslás

prohibition

tiltás

witch

boszorkány

latter

utóbbi

wizard

bűbájos, varázsló

to rub

dörzsölni, bedörzsölni

garlic

fokhagyma

cross

kereszt

stable

istálló

ashes

hamu

to scare away

elijeszteni

ghost

szellem

broom

seprű

to carve

faragni

procedure

művelet

midnight mass

éjféli mise

dumpling

gombóc

surface

felszín

to play pranks

csínyeket elkövetni

to disassemble

szétszedni

wagon

szekér

to assemble

összerakni

roof

tető

prank

csíny

to blame on

ráfogni valakire

harvest

termés, aratás

to foretell

megjósolni

roughly

nagyjából, durván

onion

hagyma

to peel off

lehámozni

layer

réteg

to pour

tölteni, szórni

to melt

elolvadni

to predict

megjósolni, előrejelezni

to sprout

csíráztatni

wheat

búza

to germinate

csírázni

oven

kemence

pumpkin

sütőtök

to scare

megijeszteni

at nightfall

sötétedéskor

candle

gyertya

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