Monday, December 06, 2010

Mikulás and the Chocolate People

Unlike in the US, where Santa comes on Christmas Eve, in Hungary Mikulás comes on December 6th - Saint Nicholas Day - and leaves chocolate in the children's shoes, unless of course the children were bad... Whereas in the US, if kids are bad Santa leaves coal in their stocking, in Hungary the Krampusz - a devil - gives the bad kids virgács (wood sticks, kind of like kindling). Nothing says Merry Christmas like this lovely picture depicting Krampusz kidnapping some kids:

Saint Nicholas was a real man, a Christian pastor who was persecuted and imprisoned for his faith in Jesus Christ. Here is a good article about who the real Santa Claus was.

Santa brought Nate a Thomas backpack, which he really loves.

Nate likes to take his toys with him when he goes places, so this was a very practical idea on Santa's part, because now he doesn't have to carry them in his hands, but can put them in his backpack and take them with him! I have no idea how Santa could have known that Nate could use such a thing.

We went into town today for the Mikulás celebrations, where Nate was very excited to see Mikulás and get some Christmas candy (szalon cukor) from him.

Then - one of the highlights of my day - there was a concert for children in the main square. We stopped to listen, and I was a bit surprised by the words of the song that was being performed. Here are the words:
Csodás a csokibőrű Afrika,
A bőrük csokival van bevonva.
(Chocolate-skinned Africa is amazing.
The people's skin is coated in chocolate)
I'm pretty sure that this song would NOT be acceptable in the US! Here, it was the song they were teaching the children to sing in the main square of the city.

A lot of the Africans and Indians I have known in Hungary have told me that when they walked down the street in Hungary, kids would always point at them and yell "Csoki ember!" (Chocolate person!) Apparently they teach their kids this term...I just hope the kids learn to not do that by the time they get a little older.


  1. In Hungary it’s a saying „chocolate skinned” also for tanned people. But „the people's skin is coated in chocolate” – this is surprising for me, too!

  2. Anonymous8:08 AM

    Hey Nick, I also wonder how the Mikulas knew that Nate needed a backpack for Thomas and the other trains? :-)

  3. nothing like a little old-fashioned racism to make it feel like the holidays. :)