Hungary Prepares for the End of Winter With Busójárás in Mohács
Fanni Kaszás 2020.02.16.
The Busó Carnival and its many festivities will start next week in Mohács, a town in Southern Hungary. The event will begin on February 20th, with the Kisfarsang (Little Carnival), continuing through the weekend, and is scheduled to conclude with a program on Shrove Tuesday, February 25th.
The six-day carnival marks the end of winter and the start of spring and fertility. During the Busó Carnival (or “busójárás” in Hungarian) costumed people — traditionally men — wearing big woolly cloaks and frightening masks carved out of wood, march through the city of Mohács. The festival is multifaceted and includes a children’s costume contest, an art display showcasing works created by mask carvers and other craftspeople, the arrival of more than 500 busós in rowboats on the Danube for a march through the city alongside horse-drawn or motorized vehicles, the burning of a coffin symbolizing winter on a bonfire in the central square, and feasts and music throughout the city. Self-organized groups of busós of all cultural backgrounds still pass down mask-carving techniques and rituals to younger generations. The Busó Carnival was included on the representative list of the UNESCO Cultural Heritages in 2009.
Artist Gábor Baráth, who was honored last year with the title “Young Master of Folk Art” and known for his beautifully carved Busó masks, has already started working on them.
The artist, born in Mohács in 1985, also works as an architect, but is mostly known as a folk artist who carves traditional Busó masks for the Busójárás festival, held in Mohács every February. Baráth is an avid traditionalist, and his name is also known for a richly decorated coin: in 2011, the National Bank of Hungary launched a series of medals depicting the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Hungary, and the Busójárás medal depicts one of Baráth’s masks. Besides traditional masks, the artist also makes incredible sculptures out of old tires, including elephants, warriors, lions, and horses.
This year, winter will be “scared away” with the participation of more Busó-masqued people in Mohács than ever. 1,750 people will be dressed up in the town, and organizers expect 50-60 thousand visitors a day if the weather is good. In addition to the carnivals and parades, there will be dance houses, balls, exhibitions, busó shows, and gastronomic delicacies.