Loved this view into Hungarian life at the time of my father’s youth. From the delightful blog; ADiligentObserver.

the Diligent Observer

Many thanks to the National Geographic which, in its pursuit of conserving World Cultures, took it upon themselves to document life in Rural Hungary in the June, 1932 issue.

Lusty Magyar youths couldn’t just share a shake at the malt shop, or go necking at a drive-in movie in order to share some quality time with their honey.  For them, flirting took place 10 feet apart, separated by a wall and surrounded by friends and siblings (and most likely with a mother lurking close by).

Who is courting whom, one wonders.  The girl on the far right looks none too pleased with the amount of attention she is receiving.

Who knew that dancing the Csárdás was no different than slow dancing to *NSYNC at a middle school dance?

It looks like the male/female ratio in this rural enclave is slightly skewed to the latter.

dancing the Csardas.jpg

View original post

Kellemes Húsvéti Ünnepeket !

Easter Monday sprinkling is an old Hungarian custom. Young men would sprinkle cologne or water on the ladies of their fancy, often extended to all the women in the house. Mother told of a Canadian boyfriend who upon hearing of the tradition showed up at their house and woke the family at the crack of dawn on Easter Monday with a bottle of perfume to be the first to sprinkle her. A sweet gesture not much appreciated by her tired parents. 

Apparently some communities take it quite a bit further, drenching the girls with buckets of water.

hungary-easter-2010-3-26-6-52-12

from sulekha.com

Continue reading

The Early Magyars, from The Gin Chronicles (http://allajohn.wordpress.com)

The Early Magyars

I have been reading or at least skimming through a pile of books on Hungarian history to get a bit of context on the lives of my ancestors. Then I came upon this illustration which I think does a marvelous job of explaining where the Magyars came from.

The Gin Chronicles

John and I have been really dragging our feet talking about Budapest because not only is there an absurd amount of history, but it’s also our favorite city of the trip.  I mean, can you blame us? Look at it.

Alright, lets start with a little bit of history.

Who are the Hungarians?  Were they originally Huns?  Slavs? Really hungry people that ate their way through Eastern Europe?  Not quite…

Hungarians are the Magyar people; nomads who were known for their equestrian and archery skills.  If riding a horse isn’t hard enough, they perfected shooting arrows while bouncing up and down.  It is debated whether or not Hungarians descended from Asians or Caucasians (DNA evidence and previous features point to Asian).  Does it matter? Not really.  Asian or not, they made their way from the Ural Mountains to what is currently Hungary (more or less) around the 5th century. Here is…

View original post 498 more words

Legeslegmegengesztelhetetlenebbeknek

Fiume Harbor about 1900

Fiume Harbor about 1900

Hungarian has been described as the most difficult language to learn.  That might be an exaggeration, but, the agglutinative (little bits of words all stuck together) nature of the Magyar tongue can be daunting. For a while under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Adriatic port city of Fiume was a free state managed by a Hungarian governor. The Hungarians required anyone wanting a position in the government to learn Hungarian. Most of those interested were Italian speakers who found the requirement impossible.

They expressed their opinion in this word scribbled on the walls: ‘Legeslegmegengesztelhetetlenebbeknek’. It means ‘To the most unreasonable ones’. And, no. I’ve tried. I can’t pronounce it.

Suggested Listening: “Csárdás” by Vittorio Monti

Classical Conditioning

Get excited.  This week’s SUGGESTED LISTENING for the CLASSICAL MUSIC SKEPTIC is… *drumroll* …Vittorio Monti’s Csárdás, performed below by the Szalai Hungarian Gypsy Band.

About the Composer:

Vittorio Monti (1869-1922) isn’t super famous.  His lifetime roughly coincided with the late Romantic powerhouses such as Debussy, Scriabin, and Grieg — no wonder poor Monti was overshadowed!  A born and bred Neapolitan, Monti studied violin and composition at the Conservatorio di San Pietro in Naples, and in his thirties he was hired to conduct the Orchestre Lamoureux in Paris.  His output wasn’t too prolific: a few ballets, some operettas, works for piano, violin show pieces, and even a mandolin method book.  Monti composed in the tradition of the 19th-century Italian composers who came before him — guys like Ponchielli (you probably know his “Dance of the Hours”) and Mascagni (maybe you’ve heard his Cavalleria Rusticana?) — a very operatic…

View original post 307 more words