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Here is What Hungarians Eat on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day

Hungary Today 2020.12.31.

New Year in Hungary has always been accompanied by tons of rituals and superstitions. Although most of them are long forgotten or just overseen, meal “rules” are  still pretty much respected in Hungarian households. Here are some of the typical dishes, and some that you must avoid.

Superstitious thinking has it that what we eat on these days will have an impact on our following year. As a result, contrary to Christmas, fish meals are ‘prohibited,’ as fish ‘swim away with fortune.’ Likewise, chicken is said to scratch away luck and success and turkey brings poison to the house. Roasted pork, on the other hand, is a perfect choice as pigs are associated with progress and luck and they dig fortune from the soil.

Consuming grains such as beans or lentils can also bring good luck, as they will bring money to the home. The signature meal is definitely lentil soup or stew. As is the case with all household recipes, the number of varieties is countless and every family has its own way of preparing the dish, with many adding smoked meat or sausage. Here is our way:

The Most Essential Hungarian New Year's Food: Lentil Stew - With Recipe!
The Most Essential Hungarian New Year's Food: Lentil Stew - With Recipe!

Almost every country has its own New Year’s food and traditions, and almost all of it is about the same thing: to achieve enrichment and completeness in the new year with its consumption. In Hungary, people usually eat lentils on the first day of the year, as it is considered to bring good luck and […]Continue reading

Desserts need to follow the same line of thinking. Back in the olden days, poppy (and peas, beans, and apples too) meant prosperity, abundance, and wisdom. Therefore, poppy seed bread pudding (mákos guba), probably one of the oldest Hungarian desserts, could be a good way to go. While recipes vary from house to house, our version is a simpler (but for sure a tasty) one:

A Traditional Hungarian Christmas Dessert: Poppy Seed Bread Pudding - With Recipe!
A Traditional Hungarian Christmas Dessert: Poppy Seed Bread Pudding - With Recipe!

In most households in Hungary, one can find at least one traditional Christmas food on the table with old peasant, superstitious roots: back in the day, foods prepared with poppy, peas, beans, and apples meant prosperity, abundance, and wisdom. Although the most popular dessert with poppy seeds is probably the famous bejgli, many Hungarians also […]Continue reading

In addition, people usually eat strudels as well, with a lot of filling, as the superstition says that the more filling brings more happiness in the coming months. With our variant, a pumpkin-poppy seed version, you definitely won’t make a mistake:

Easy Twist for a Complicated Classic: Pumpkin-Poppy Seed Strudel - With Recipe!
Easy Twist for a Complicated Classic: Pumpkin-Poppy Seed Strudel - With Recipe!

Our most popular and well-known pasta-based dessert, the strudel, or as we call it – rétes, is also the most complicated to prepare traditionally. However, with a little twist, everyone can bake it easily for the family in a few minutes.  The strudel is a real co-production from the region, as the dessert, filled with […]Continue reading

Let’s not overlook the practical reasons as well when picking the dishes for New Year’s Eve (in Hungarian, ‘Szilveszter’) and the following day(s). Although frankfurters are popular all year long, they are even more so on New Year’s Eve. A gourmet jury has recently tasted and chosen the best commercial and widely available ones in Hungary:

These Are Hungary's Best Quality Frankfurters, According to Gourmet Jury
These Are Hungary's Best Quality Frankfurters, According to Gourmet Jury

Frankfurters in Hungary are usual picks for New Year’s Eve parties, and people who care about quality are always eager to know what would be best for such a special occasion. Now they have some help, thanks to the test of Dining Guide magazine and the Bocuse d’Or Academy.  According to the competition’s criteria, the […]Continue reading

Also, one must not forget about curing a hangover, a regular visitor of Hungarians on January 1, (although this year’s would probably be a milder one due to the restrictions). In any case, hot, sour, and thick ‘korhely’ (soak) soup is a popular pick for that “next day” although due to its heaviness, it is not recommended for breakfast. The soup’s essence is (a lot of) sauerkraut, made with sausage or bacon, potentially with sour cream on top. It even derives its name from the fact that due to its sour taste, it soothes the stomach after the day before’s fun and feasting.

featured photo: Péter Csákvári/Hungary Today