Third Hungarian Heritage Festival Held in New York
Fanni Kaszás 2018.12.15.
The Hungarian Heritage Festival was held for the third time last weekend between 7-9 December in New York at the Hungarian House—complete with an advent theme, concerts and traditional arts and crafts workshops.
Following the success of the last two Hungarian Heritage Festivals, the Hungarian House in New York decided to organize the event once again, this time in the winter. The weekend started with the opening ceremony of the ‘Music of angels, candlelight..’ Christmas exhibition. Organized by the Hungarian Open-Air Museum of Szentendre, the exhibition showcased Christmases gone by, as well as medieval Christmas traditions, celebrations and family customs. While the many photographs and snapshots displayed evoked memories of Christmases past, a guided tour with Dr. Zsolt Sári, the curator of the exhibit, answered questions about the history of Christmas trees, tree decorations, traditional and modern ornaments and medieval treats.
photo: Fanni Kaszás/Hungary Today
The opening ceremony continued with a jazz-infused Hungarian folk concert featuring Lívia Bagóczky of Balkan Fanatik and pianist Krisztián Oláh, a competitor in the semi-finals of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition. Their performance was followed by the Libero Canto (Kinga Cserjési, Deborah Carmichael, and Marisa Michelson accompanied by Doug Martin on piano) who performed songs by Bartók and Monteverdi.
Christmas exhibition by the Hungarian Open-Air Museum (photo: Fanni Kaszás/Hungary Today)
Another exhibit at the festival featured works by weaver Anikó Árvai, basket weaver Márta Bencsik, gingerbread decorator Judit Szmeló, felt maker Vetró Mihály and embroiderer Bernadett Pap Zelei. A variety of programs were offered over the weekend, including workshops for both adults and children on do-it-yourself Christmas presents and traditional handicrafts. The weekend continued with folk music concerts, folk dance programs and a Christmas fair where children could meet St. Nicholas—or Mikulás—as the event was held just after December 6th, the Day of St. Nicholas.
Lívia Bagóczky and Krisztián Oláh (photo: Fanni Kaszás/Hungary Today)
During the weekend, the Kobzos Ensemble performed Hungarian spiritual songs with instrumental accompaniment and two non-Hungarian choirs shared their traditional Christmas music: the Ukrainian Village Voices, a culturally diverse group of folk singers based in New York City, and the Supruli Georgian Choir.
Exhibition by the Association of Hungarian Folk Artists(photo: Fanni Kaszás/Hungary Today)
Dance also played a central role in the festival as visitors witnessed and learned the basics of Hungary’s musical traditions. Live folk dance performances introduced visitors to dance-houses and Hungarian dance traditions.
Aside from experiencing the various cultural programs and workshops available, American Hungarian and non-Hungarian visitors could taste delicious Hungarian Christmas delicacies like goulash, a Székely (Szekler) style cabbage with stew, Bakony style pork ragout and chicken stew with dumplings, an assortment of strudels and beigli (nut or poppy roll) and mulled wine.
The festival aimed not only to reconnect Hungarian-Americans with Hungarian tradition, but to also help non-Hungarians gain a deeper insight into Hungarian culture and Christmas traditions.
photo: Hungarian House Facebook
The event was organized by the Hungarian House in New York, the Association of Hungarian Folk Artists and the Hungarian Open-Air Museum. An interview with Ildikó Nagy, director of the Hungarian House in New York, will be available on Hungary Today later, offering a bit more insight into the work, history and goals of the institution.