Christmas in Hungary

Budapest this year is bedecked with lights and everywhere there's the smell of great Christmas feasts being baked. Radio Budapest asked Girl Scout Katinka Csizmadi to share with us how Hungarian families will be celebrating Christmas:

"It's still a tradition to spend it with the family. It's the celebration of love, of being together with the people you love and I think it's very important to be with them because all the other days of the year you are away doing your job, studying, and all those kind of things. These three days should be about the family and traditions - to be together, eat together, and relax together."

So what's the programme like?

"One week before Christmas we clean the whole house and keep it tidy for the holiday."

In Hungary, we start celebrating Christmas on December 24.

"Actually, we start in the morning because we have to cook and bake a lot. We cook all day and we don't even eat lunch because dinner is very early - when it gets dark, which is very early during winter. Then, after dinner we spend one or two hours together to sing Christmas carols or recite poems.

"During my childhood, we went to church to watch nativity plays that were acted out by children. Then, 'Baby Jesus' came to our home and when we returned home we would find the presents for the family that 'Baby Jesus' brought. So, it was a surprise for the children."

What's on the menu of the Christmas Eve special dinner?

"Traditionally it's fish but unfortunately my family hates fish so we eat something else. We cook some meat soup and chicken and a special Hungarian cake filled with nuts and poppy seeds and a cake filled with honey that we bake in various shapes like angels or Christmas trees."

What do you do on Christmas Day?

"There are many things to do. But the main and first thing is a visit to the extended family - my grandparents, aunts and uncles. On Boxing Day we also meet with our friends."

I know that you are an active scout. Do you do anything special during Christmas?

"Yes, for example, we organise a Christmas celebration together and perform the nativity plays to bring the story closer to the younger members. For many of them it's just a tradition that they identify little with. When we act it out, it will remain important to them."