All posts in Xmas Foods

Christmas Foods in Budapest: Xmas menus, recipes

Christmas Market at Vorosmarty Square Budapest

30 December in Budapest is all about getting ready to say our farewells to the old year.

Some people try to relax before NYE, some has already started partying.

The definite highlight of this day is the chance to spend the night of 30 December in the warm thermal pools of Szechenyi Baths and welcome the last day of 2017 while listening to amazing music.

Szechenyi Baths Party Budapest NYE Sparty

Szechenyi Baths Party Budapest NYE Sparty

New Year Bath Party in Szechenyi Baths

A simply brilliant concept, combining the hot, relaxing waters of the outdoor pools of Szechenyi Baths and a nightclub.

If you are in Budapest on 30 December then you should never miss the New Year Bath Party, but be careful, tickets sell out like hot cakes, so don’t hesitate to book early!

Thermal Baths in Budapest on 30 December

Budapest is called the ‘City of Baths’.  Hungary is famous for its thermal springs, and Budapest is full of thermal waters with healing qualities.

Gellert Bath at Christmas

Gellert Bath at Christmas – You Flavio Photography

Budapest has a number of great spas and outdoor pools worth visiting, but  Szechenyi Baths, Gellert Spa, Lukacs Baths, and Rudas Baths are the most well-known ones.

By clicking on any of the Budapest baths listed above additional info along with price, opening hours, useful tips can be found.

Budapest Gala Concert on 30 December

Have you ever been on a gala concert offering a truly unique entertainment with a special Hungarian flavour and a wide repertoire from gypsy and operetta music to Hungarian-related classical music?

You can enjoy the famous Danube Symphony Orchestra and masterpieces written by Berlioz, Liszt, Lehar, Liszt on the Budapest Gala Concerts and then, should you wish, you can even go on a romantic late night river cruise.

Budapest Gala Concerts

Budapest Gala Concerts

100 Member Gypsy Orchestra at the Budapest Congress Center on 30 December

Traditional concert from the renowned 100 Member Gypsy Orchestra at the Budapest Congress Center.

Music by Bizet, Brahms, Strauss, Tchaikovsky and Liszt, the evening begins with wine tasting and a folk dance show.

The concert can also be booked with a delicious dinner.

River Danube Cruises on 30 December

A river Danube cruise is always a memorable event, irrespectively of the actual season.

Winter Daytime Cruise in Budapest

Winter Daytime Cruise in Budapest

A lunch cruise, a simple cruise with drinks or a sightseeing cruise with an audio guide, there is a wide range of day cruise options available.

As for the evenings, tickets for the dinner cruises almost always run out days before the date of the cruise, as many people wish to ensure a relaxing evening or night with the loved ones while admiring the UNESCO World Heritage Sights of Budapest and the most famous landmarks, buildings of the city (the Parliament, Buda Castle with the Royal Palace, the Chain Bridge and the other beautiful bridges).

Get ready for an evening cruise and make the reservation long before.

Buda Castle Tours and Segway Tours on 30 December

The Buda Castle District in Budapest is worth a visit. Packed with historic sights, medieval houses, charming streets and some really good cafes and restaurants, this area needs at least a full day to explore.

What better way to discover the crooked streets then booking Castle tours in the Buda Castle District, or a 2h Budget Buda Castle Walking Tour.

Budapest Buda Castle Hill in Winter Mispahn

Budapest Buda Castle Hill in Winter Mispahn

If you wish to spare your legs, try one of the Segway Tours in Budapest.

You can also choose from other different Segway Tours in other parts of Budapest on December 30:

Christmas Markets on Dec 30 in Budapest

Say goodbye to 2017 by visiting one of the traditional Budapest Christmas Markets offering quality gifts, cultural programs, good food and special winter drinks.

Vorosmarty Square Christmas Market

Address: Vorosmarty Ter, District V

Open: 10 am – 9 pm (merchant stalls until 8 pm)

St Stephen’s Basilica Christmas Market

Address: Szent Istvan Ter, in front of the Budapest Basilica building, District V

Open: 10 am – 8 pm, with laser show every half an hour between 4.30 pm and 8 pm on the Basilica’s facade.

 

 

The Christmas Market and Festival in Vajdahunyad Castle, the picturesque castle in the City Park, is one of the best Christmas events in Budapest, Hungary. The Christmas market is open in December (from Dec 1 to December 23).

Skating Rink by Vajdahunyad Castle

Skating Rink by Vajdahunyad Castle – Ben G Hancock

NOT SCHEDULED for 2015. You can visit the Christmas markets in Budapest that are scheduled regularly, like the Vorosmarty Square Christmas Market, the St Stephen’s Basilica Advent Market.

Nevertheless, Vajdahunyad Castle is well worth a visit, for several reasons, for its own merits, and for the beauty of its neighbourhood, the Ice Rink Palace in Budapest in the City Park, and the Szechenyi Bath, both of which are within walking distance.

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2013 Budapest Christmas Market in Vajdahunyad Castle Budapest: the dates of the upcoming Budapest Christmas market in Vajdahunyad Vara have not been finalized yet, but in all probability the fair will be from December 1 2013 to December 23 2013. To get some insights about the Vajdahunyad Castle Christmas Market, take a look at past events and their programs, e.g. 2012 Vajdahunyad Castle Xmas Market

Besides the stalls of the Xmas fair set up in the courtyard of the castle, you can see some lovely performances and hear Christmas concerts on the main stage of Vajdahunyad Castle by the Gothic Castle building. There are many Hungarian wine makers presenting their wines. Mulled wines are also available as well as traditional Hungarian foods (sometimes even Belgian beers and chocolates as the guest of the Vajdahunyad Christmas Fair is Belgium, like in the fair in 2012).

Vajdahunyad Castle Budapest in winter

Vajdahunyad Castle Budapest – Leon de Nemea Photography

Vajdahunyad Castle is conveniently located beside the big Budapest Ice Skate Rink and ToPart Palace (another smaller palace by the Ice Rink). Getting there by the M1 yellow metro is a breeze from the city center. Get off on Heroes’ Square and take a short 5 min walk following the towers of the castle.

Handcrafts at the Christmas Market

Old and skilled craftsmen as well as contemporary artists and designers sell their Christmas goods and gifts if you should be looking for some special Hungarian Christmas gift.

Christmas Market Opening Hours

The Christmas fair and festival in Vajdahunyad Var in Varosliget park of Budapest is open every day in December, from Dec 1 to Dec 23 (tentative dates, the final opening hours are usually set in November)

Opening Hours of the Christmas Market

  • Monday at the Christmas market: from 12 pm (noon) to 8 pm
  • Tuesday at the Christmas market: from 12 pm (noon) to 8 pm
  • Wednesday at the Christmas market: from 12 pm (noon) to 8 pm
  • Thursday at the Christmas market: from 12 pm (noon) to 8 pm
  • Friday at the Christmas market: from 12 pm (noon) to 8 pm
  • Saturday at the Christmas market: from 10 am to 8 pm
  • Sunday at the Christmas market: from 10 am to 8 pm

Programs Vajdahunyad Castle Christmas Market

Christmas Market and Christmas Concerts: take a stroll on the courtyard of the Castle to see some traditional handmade crafts and modern Xmas designs, grab a mug of mulled wine and enjoy the music of the fair: Gospel singers, Hungarian world music and folk bands, jazz musicians, kids bands, etc. are on the menu of the Christmas festival.

The heated Gingerbread House in the Baroque Hall of the Castle, the Book House, etc. offer warm refuge from the cold winter weather with many programs.

Live Bethlehem with real animals in the Christmas Pet Zoo of the Vajdahunyad Castle in Budapest Christmas Fair is a real attraction for younger children.

Children and adults can have a nice time together in the kids arts and crafts workshops, making Christmas decorations and gingerbread cookies and decorations at the Christmas market of the Budapest Vajdahunyad Castle.

Youlupukki, the Finnish Santa Claus comes to visit children at the Vajdahunyad Castle. But Santa Claus can also lend its one horse sleigh to take you for a round in the City Park (Varosliget) and its many attractions: Szechenyi Baths, Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Transport in Budapest, the Budapest Zoo, Anonymous Statue in Budapest, etc.

Advents Sunday Concerts in the Chapel of Jak (the smaller replica of the Church of Jak village) of the Vajdahunyad Castle: each Sunday during the Advent, from December 1 to Dec 23, you can listen to beautiful choir songs in the Sunday concerts. The venue is the chapel of the castle, which was modeled after the Romanesque style 13th century church of Jak village in medieval Hungary. Jak Chapel Sunday services are normally from spring to autumn on Sundays, but the Advent period is a special event series in Vajdahunyad Var Budapest.

Dec 15, Luca Day: when the Shepherds meet… The Day of Luca (officially on December 13) is a day surrounded by Hungarian Christmas rituals, old beliefs and strange traditions in Hungary. At the Vajdahunyad Castle, Luca Day will be dedicated to the Hungarian shepherds, and the traditional lifestyle and culture of Magyar shepherds on Dec 15, 2012. During the Christmas market, you can see the permanent and temporary exhibitions in the Vajdahunyad Castle, the residence of the Hungarian Agricultural Museum. See the Vajdahunyad Castle Exhibitions here, or more info about Vajdahunyad Castle Events

Related to Vajdahunyad Var Karacsony:

Winter Events Vajdahunyad Castle Budapest

Christmas Fair in Budapest Vajdahunyad Castle

February Furmint Wine Festival Vajdahunyad Castle Budapest

Carnival in Vajdahunyad Castle Budapest

We have been walking around the Budapest Christmas Markets this year to take a look at the amazing gingerbread Christmas tree decorations, some of them with Hungarian folk motifs and a Hungarian twist. On a traditional Hungarian Christmas tree, you can always find some Christmas Candy, the Szaloncukor, and often see home made gingerbread Christmas tree ornaments, often made together with the kids. Or, bought at the Budapest Christmas Fair. Like these beauties.

You can see many of the Hungarian gingerbread Christmas tree decorations here: Hungarian Folk Motifs on Christmas decorations

Hungarian Folk Motifs on Christmas decorations

Hungarian Folk Motifs on Christmas gingerbread decorations

If you want to do some gingerbread decorations yourselves with the children, there is a playhouse in the middle of Vorosmarty Square at the Budapest Christmas market where you can join the locals to do some Xmas workshops, like decorating gingerbread hearts, bells, etc. The playhouse is open in the afternoons and at the weekends. Free to join.

These are some that we liked most. Please send in your photos of the gingerbread Christmas decorations you liked most to BudapestChristmas [at] gmail [dot] com.

 

Chimney Cake (kurtoskalacs) is one of the traditional Hungarian cakes, originally made by Hungarians living in Transylvania (now in Romania). Chimney cake is a lovely sweet snack, a must try at the Budapest Xmas Markets, loved by kids and adults.

Chimney Cake

Chimney cake is the sweet rock and roll pastry for Hungarians. Pretzel for the salty, Chimney cake for the sweet. A walking snack, and a sight to behold as it is made in front of your eyes (and nose!).

Chimney Cake at the Christmas Market in Budapest

Chimney Cake at the Xmas Fair in Budapest – Peter Pászti Photography

While we consider Chimney Cake a sweet delight during winter time in Hungary, it is not a special Christmas pastry (unlike Beigli), and can be bought all year round, especially at Budapest festivals, like the Festival of Folk Arts in Buda Castle in August.

You can walk around the Christmas market with your warm and delicious Chimney cake: milk bread grilled over open fire. You can pick a flavour too: cinnamon, almond, walnut, coconut, etc. There are lots of yummy versions of Kurtoskalacs. No worries, the vendors will speak English. But if you wonder what the pronunciation of Kurtoskalacs is, let’s see how you say this yummy mouthful word: cure-tosh-col-arch. Not so hard, right?

 

It is sold at a more expensive price at the market (as all foods and drinks), but considering that there is no entrance fee to the Christmas market, it is not so pricey after all (about 4 Euros per roll, which could be 1-2 Euros otherwise…). So we shut our eyes, and roll with the Christmas: we love to nibble a freshly baked Chimney cake on the Christmas market, and have our mulled wine too!

The dough is basically a sort of milk loaf baked and rolled in cinnamon, cocoa powder, etc. Once the dough has raised and is ready to bake, it is thinly stretched by a rolling pin, cut in slightly to make a snake like strip of the dilapidated dough, then quickly rolled on a thicker wooden rolling pin, which has a metal handle and a metal hook. The dough on the pin is then baked in an open fire over the glistening coals. Once the cake is baked, and has a nice brown coating, it is slipped off the thick wooden rolls. The cake looks like a little barbecued pipe, or the chimney stack of old times. Hence the name Chimney Cake (Kürtős kalács in Hungarian).
The cake roll gets its final flavors when it is rolled in the sugary mixtures of cinnamon, cocoa, ginger, etc. The rolls are sold in packages too. It won’t be as delicious if eaten later, and delivered in a plastic wrapping, but it could be one of your Hungarian culinary gifts – some food for thought.

For over a hundred years, Hungarian families have been decorating the Christmas tree with a decorative candy called Szaloncukor (szalon meaning parlour, and cukor meaning sugar).

For most Hungarians celebrating Christmas also means a hunt for the best Hungarian szaloncukor. But why is it a special candy? It is certainly the most traditional Hungarian Christmas sweets, a gift and a decor in itself.

Hungarian Christmas Fondant

Szaloncukor on the Christmas Tree

Szaloncukor on the Christmas Tree

Szaloncukor is the Hungarian Christmas Fondant. It is easy to carry, not so expensive to buy, and makes a good Christmas gift if you are visiting Budapest in winter time. You can also try them before just buying them to make sure that you really love what you give as a Christmas gift from Hungary.

What is Szaloncukor?

Szaloncukor is made of fondant, then covered by a thin chocolate layer (or not, but most of them are), and then wrapped into a nice, Christmassy paper or wrapping sheet with a special shape. The oval shaped fondant candy keeps its ovalness, and the szaloncukor as a whole has a bow tie shape with two frilly ends.

More traditional szaloncukor candies were wrapped in real paper and the frills were made of a very fine flimsy paper of a distinctive color. These days, the Christmas candy comes in shiny wraps.

Flavors of the Christmas ‘Fondant’ Candies

The Christmas fondant candies are not so fondant any more. The Xmas candies come in dozens of flavours. According to a recent vote on the best szaloncukor makes in Hungary, the top two manufacturers are Stühmer (Stuhmer Korfu got tons of votes, it is made of honey, egg white, frappe and covered in dark chocolate) and Szamos Marzipan fondants (made of marzipan of course).

This is the top ten list of Hungarian Xmas fondants, which locals like:

Hungarian Christmas Fondant Top List

Hungarian Christmas Fondant Top List

Top Favorite Flavors of Szaloncukor (based on the thousands of votes on szaloncukor.hu, December 2011)
  • Gelatin (sort of wine gum filling, covered in cholocate): Zselés Szaloncukor
  • Marzipan – probably the best one is made by Szamos Marzipan
  • Caramel
  • Cognac dipped sour cherry
  • Coconut
  • Hazelnut (Milka seems to be the leading brand in Hungary for the mogyoros szaloncukor)
  • Chestnut
  • Rum cocoa
  • Rum nut
  • Chocolate
  • Yoghurt & fruit
  • Apple cinnamon
  • Quark
  • Tiramisu
  • Strawberry
  • Sour cherry
  • Almond
But Szamos can be enjoyed. Excellent sour cherry variants. the marzipan is filled with a sour cherry cream (slightly alcoholic).
Expensive approx Huf 4,600 / kilo, but high end szaloncukor boxes can cost as much as HUF 8,000 / kg too (e.g. Stühmer’s luxury fondants).
Szaloncukor shaped handcrafted decor

Szaloncukor shaped handcrafted decor (made by Diavackai)

Szamos marzipan szaloncukor are tasty and great value, their price range is around the same as the well known Milka branded szaloncukor fondants. Milka is the market leader in the milk chocolate Christmas candies with hazelnut filling, which are quite sweet.
You can also try a much cheaper local Christmas fondant candy branded as Norbi. Norbi is a Hungarian fitness guru who is a great divider in Hungary. He has a range of products, foods, meals etc which are supposedly healthier products with fewer calories (e.g. Norbi update mustard, Norbi update ketchup, etc.) He even has a good and very popular lunch diner selling very cheap Hungarian meals as lunch menus. Norbi Xmas candy is not top tier szaloncukor but a good value option.

Oops, where is the szaloncukor from the Christmas tree?

Oops, where is the szaloncukor from the Christmas tree? (emmanyuszi’s photo)

Where can you buy Hungarian Christmas Sweets?

Szaloncukor, the traditional Xmas candy is sold all over Budapest, in every shop and supermarket. But Supermarket brands are for decor only. You have been warned. In addition to grocery stores and supermarkets, you can buy the specialty szaloncukor brands in  the brand shops, like the Szamos shop by Vorosmarty Square (Szamos Gourmet House, right next to the Christmas market on Vorosmarty Square), or Stuhmer shop in Budapest in Pozsonyi Street, District XIII (Stühmer Bolt).

Szaloncukor the fondant candy is a seasonal product, so you will only find it in Budapest from October to January, definitely not in the summer, sorry. Many tons of Christmas fondant candies are sold all over in Hungary before Christmas, and then what is left after Christmas is often sold at a reduced price. They do not store well for a long time, which is a good sign usually that it has not been full of preservatives.

The prices of szaloncukor boxes are quite high, as if you were buying handmade chocolates: in general the average price of good quality szaloncukor is approx. HUF 4,600 / kilo. The boxes come in all sizes, some of them are quite decorative and good for storing little tid bits in them.

Make sure you only buy szaloncukor fondants in a manufactured box, as these candies have been tested. At some of the Budapest Christmas markets, you can buy fondants by the kilo, but these candies may not have been tested, so it is better not to risk your health, especially if you wish to take it home as a small Christmas gift or souvenir from Budapest, Hungary.

Hungarian Traditions related to the Fondant

Many families hang the szaloncukor fondants on the Christmas tree, and place a basketful of them on the Christmas table. Still, somehow a szaloncukor taken from the tree tastes better. Hungarian children develop a special skill to make the Christmas candy wrap look as if it had been untouched, still full (parents cannot guard the tree well enough, so this usually develops into a traditional family game, who is ‘stealing’ the sweets from the Christmas tree, who is eating the candy after cleaning teeth in the evening, etc.).

You can also buy little metal hooks to pierce the paper of the szaloncukor so that it is easy to hang on the Christmas tree. Other families take a thread and make a string of szaloncukor as a decor on the Christmas tree.

Hungarian Christmas Sweets

Hungarian Christmas Sweets – Candy (crafted by zsizsu72)

History of Hungarian Szaloncukor

Nobody knows for sure how the special Christmas candy tradition started in Hungary, but one thing is sure, it wasn’t until the late 19th century that it started to be part of the Christmas celebrations. Hungary was part of the Austria Hungary dual monarchy, when the richer Hungarian noble families had nice parlors (or salons) to erect a Christmas tree (often for each child) and put up Christmas decor on the trees. Amongst them Salon sugar (szaloncukor), which were handcrafted from soft fondant with added flavors. The candy most probably came to Hungary via German sweets traders and makers (fondant was originally made in medieval France). One of the most popular Hungarian novelists, Mor Jokai called them Szalon czukkedli, which also shows that the name of the candy started off as a borrowed word from German.

It was only years later that the top Hungarian sweets manufacturers of the 19th century started to make the szaloncukor candies by the kilos. The easy production and delicious flavors made it and instant success, so many Hungarian families started to buy them from Cafe Gerbeaud and from Stühmer (both still in production). Budapest led the fashion, but the tradition of szaloncukor fondants were quickly picked up by families living outside Budapest. These days it is very widespread, from small villages to the Hungarian capital.

While fondant was typical during the Socialist era, after that, since 1989 the fillings have been made from all sorts of exquisite chocolate bonbon fillings. So we may as well call them Hungarian Christmas truffles, festive bonbons, silky smooth winter sweets.

 

Photo of the single szaloncukor, close up from Mistinguett blog