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To trick or not to trick? Halloween in Hungary

Do they celebrate Halloween in Hungary? The question is as tricky as this holiday itself. The short answer is no, they don’t celebrate Halloween in Hungary the way they do in Great Britain or in the United States. Then what do they do instead?

Halloween traditions

Halloween is on 31 October, the eve of All Hallows’ Day. Halloween most probably finds its roots in Celtic harvest festivals. Guises and lanterns were used to drive away the evil spirits. Today, the most popular parts of the celebration is throwing costume parties and children going from house to house or door to door to “trick or treat”, wearing costumes, collecting candies – or taking revenge on houses were they are not welcome.

All Hallows’ Day or All Saints’ Day

1 November is a Christian festival celebrated in honor of all the saints, known or unknown. It is a banking holiday in Hungary. In church a mass is held in commemoration, and families often go to the cemetery to visit their dead and tidy the graves.

All Souls’ Day

2 November commemorates the faithful departed, especially one’s relatives. In Anglicanism it is called “Commemoration of All Faithful Departed”. As it is not a banking holiday in Hungary, so instead of this day, families usually visit their dead on the day before. Because of this, All Saint’s Day and All Souls’ Day is often confused.

Allhallowtide: 31 October – 2 November  

The 3 days may be referred to as “Allhallowtide” in English. In Hungary only 1 November is a banking holiday, but this period is still traditionally considered a time for quiet commemoration, to spend time with your closest relatives, and remember those relatives who have already passed away.

Halloween in Hungary

The traditional Halloween seems to be quite the contrary of what you would usually have in Hungary. Noisy parties, flashy costumes, tricks and treats and all the bustle reminds more of the Carnival in February and would seem a bit out of place. However, everyone likes to have an excuse to party, so over the past years (or even decades) it has been a trend to celebrate Halloween in Hungary, and throw Halloween costume parties – and offer huge Halloween sales. Although trick-or-treating is still not a thing in Hungary.

Some people, especially the older generations, do not approve of having all the flashy costumes and noisy parties in this period of quiet commemoration. However, those who go party on 31 October may still go to the cemetery with their family on 1 November. The tradition has not been destroyed, only complemented. The world changes constantly, and in today’s globalized world, where we forever learn new things from each other, and get new ideas from each other, it is inevitable to learn about each other’s culture as well. And if we already know about it, why not join the party?


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