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Carnival season – Hungarian Búsójárás

Hungarian Carnival Busojaras

In Mohács, Hungary every year during the Carnival season the ancient popular custom of the Busójárás is held. This year it will happen between 7-12 February. The date is set yearly in relation to the spring solstice and the following harvest moon. Similarly to other nations’ traditions, like Rio or the Venice Carnival or some African traditions, the Busójárás is also a kind of winter send-off, spring welcoming, saving, wizard celebration.

Hungarian Carnival Busojaras

Photo ©.::Danka::.

The tradition of Mohács is also thought to have the origin in the legend of sending away of the Turks. Ancient population of Mohács, who were fed up with the dictatorship of the Turks, escaped to the Mohács Island wash. They created frightening masks and costumes, noise and vociferous equipment and at night they crossed the Danube with their boats and rout out the Turks from Mohács.

The traditional costume of the Busó is still the same as when it was first used: fur coat turned inside-out, trousers stuffed with straw, colourful knitted wool socks, boots with cowbell hanging on the belt around the waistline. In their hands rattler or maul. However, the most important part of the outfit is the Mask, which is carved out of willow, traditionally colored with animal blood and it has a sheepskin hood.

Mohácsi Busójárás is part of UNESCO Cultural Heritage since 2009 and it is part of the Hungarian National Cultural Heritage since 2012.

The Busós have keepers, they are called Jankele. The role of the Jankele is to keep the people and the children away from the Busós. They are hitting the taunting kids with sacks filled with flour, ashes or sawdust. Women have veil in front of their faces, lots of men dress in traditional wedding suits and they are called Maskara.

The aim of the Busó groups were to visit houses and with the well-wishes bring good luck. In return families offered them food and drinks.

Today the different Busó groups are meeting in the Kóló Square with the Busós, who arrive with their boats on the Danube. They all march in the Fő utca (Main Street) to the főtér (Main Square) of the city, where a free Carnival is beginning. After all this at the side of the Danube and in the small streets nearby they are celebrating the Carnival with a terrible noise. In the early evening all return to the Main Square and on a huge bonfire a wooden coffin is burned. People dance around the fire and this is their way to say goodbye to winter and welcome the beginning of spring.

All in all, it is a traditional event, but it is definitely not boring. On the contrary, it is super fun! And if you are planning to visit, but you are not into wooden masks, check out our paper masks made especially for the occasion.

What are the festivities around carnival in your country? Are there any, or you are you more into Halloween where you are from?

About the author

Beáta Veszely

Beáta Veszely is an artist who after completed her postgraduate studies in Visual Arts in London, moved back to Hungary. She is living and working in the Hungarian country side with her family - children, husband and horses. She established the Arany-ló Paper design company in 2012 as a serious hobby, which she is constantly developing next to her studio practice.

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