All posts tagged Hungarian Christmas Gifts

The Budapest Basilica Christmas Market only launched in 2011, but in 2012 the fantastic Advent fair and Christmas market is making a spectacular return in 2012. The fair is not to be missed, and it is conveniently located in the city center!

Budapest Christmas Market 2012 Basilica

Budapest Christmas Market 2012 Basilica

You don’t have to be a gift hunter for traditional Hungarian Christmas gifts to fully enjoy the wonderful Christmas market atmosphere right in front of the biggest cathedral of Budapest, the 96 meter tall St Stephen’s Basilica.

Just take a mug of mulled wine, roasted chestnut, grab some warm, juicy and hearty street foods (well beyond sausages), and enjoy the winter festival of Budapest: Budapest Christmas!

Similarly to the displays on the nearby –  and more famous – Budapest Christmas Market on Vorosmarty Square, the items for sale are beautiful handcrafted, high quality goods, which can make a perfect souvenir or special Christmas gifts for your loved ones.

Budapest Christmas Market 2012 by the Basilica

Events and Programs on the St Stephen’s Square (Szent Istvan ter):

Opening Hours of the 2012 Basilica Christmas Market

Location of Budapest Basilica Christmas Market

Location of Budapest Basilica Christmas Market

December 1, 2012 – January 1, 2013:

  • Monday – Thursday: 11:30am – 8:00pm
  • Friday: 11:30am – 10:00pm
  • Saturday: 10:00am – 10:00pm
  • Sunday: 10:00am – 8:00pm
  • 24 December, 2012: 10:00am – 2:00pm
  • 25 December: Closed
  • 26 December: Closed

Light Ray Painting on the Basilica in Budapest

from December 1 to January 1, 2012:

at half past 5 from Monday to Sunday, every day (exceptions below!) festive lights are projected on the walls of the St Istvan Basilica with accompanying melodies. Be there on the Christmas market at 5:30 and enjoy the Christmas sights.

There will be no light painting on the following days (when the market is temporarily closed for the Christmas holidays):

  • 24 December, 2012: 10:00am – 2:00pm
  • 25 December: Closed
  • 26 December: Closed

Gourmet Weekends at the Basilica Christmas Market 2012

Food & Drinks Programs at the Xmas Fair of Szent István Bazilika:

December 14., Friday, 12:00:
Tamás Bereznay – Pumpkin fried with ham, mush samp and beetroot salad dressed with goat cheese

December 14., Friday, 04:00 pm:
Tamás Bereznay – Roast duck with red cabbage and apple stewed with thyme

December 15., Saturday, 11:00 am:
Dóra Havas – Home made Christmas candies and other sweets

December 15., Saturday, 04:00 pm:
Eszter Horváth – Christmas muffins, crèmes, hot chocolate

December 16., Sunday, 05:00 pm:
Zsolt Serényi – Christmas menu

Shows and Performances at the Basilica Christmas Fair 2012

“Birds”

Birds at the Basilica Xmas market in Budapest

Birds at the Basilica Xmas market in Budapest

Flags or Birds? What are these flying dancers with poles and huge sheets of silky sheets? A special performance at the Budapest Basilica Christmas show is the “angel dance” of Middle-East origin. It has great traditions in many European countries too, but it is new to Hungary. The dancers have huge wings on sticks and with the colorful swirling of them they can tell you beautiful stories. They put you in a special mood merging components of classical ballet and that of belly dance. The impact is similar to the show of “flag throwers”.

Juggler Play House

Children and adults can test their reflexes, adroitness, endurance and balancing skills. Many juggler tools are presented to the visitors like simple balls, maces, poi, devil’s stick, long stick, yo-yo, diablo or contact ball. These tools, exercises and techniques can develop the general movement coordination, sense of balance and physical condition not even to mention the joy of playing and experience of success.

Skate Rink by the Budapest Basilica

Skate Rink by Budapest Basilica

Skate Rink by Budapest Basilica

Skating rink in the heart of the city? In front of the Cathedral? On a Christmas fair? You are right. Budapest is a unique place with unique ideas. And why not? On weekends from Friday to Sunday children under 14 years old can skate free of charge.

Trainers will help and teach your little ones how to skate.

No skates with you? You can rent them on the spot (rental fee is charged).

Is it an ice rink? Sort of artificial ice rink? Yes and no. The skating rink resembles the ice rinks, but is made of a special plastic (the SummericeTM is a US made plastic skate surface that does not need cooling)

Fresh Photos from the 2012 Budapest Christmas Market near St Istvan Basilica:

Ildiko Kardos Photography:

Santa Clause painted with ray lights on the walls of the St Stephen’s Cathedral, Budapest:

St Stephen's Cathedral, Budapest Christmas

St Stephen’s Cathedral, Budapest Christmas – Ildiko Kardos Photography

Budapest Christmas Szent Istvan Bazilika 2012

Szt Istvan Bazilika Christmas, Budapest 2012

Szt Istvan Bazilika Christmas, Budapest 2012 – Ildiko Kardos Photography

Active Aging Charity Program

Society of Respect presents active elderly at the Christmas market in Budapest at the St Stephen Basilica. After all, 2012 is the year of “active aging” and the solidarity among generations in Europe. In this spirit Hungarian pensioners over the age of 60 show us how it is possible to live an active life in an elderly age. Please donate: the incoming donations are forwarded to Árpád Ódry Home of Artists that helps elder people.

November 30, 2012 – Ilona Bartis and – Márta Bedőné Kovács (60) painters
December 1-2, 2012 – Ilona Bartis and – Márta Bedőné Kovács (60) painters
December 3, 2012 – Ilona Béresi (74) clay sculptor painter
December 4., 2012 – Antalné Bellényi (79) needlework
December 5., 2012 – Ilona Rómer (64) landscape painter
December 6. – Erzsi Mohácsi (94) doll maker
December 7-8., 2012 – Györgyné Fanta (67) dolls and embroidery from Kalocsa
December 9-10., 2012 – Gyula Nyári (65) photographer
December 11., 2012 – Erzsi Mohácsi (94) doll maker
December 12-13, 2012 – Zsigmondné Zsurka (63) pearls and flowers
December 14., 2012 – Kamilla Villányi Kockásné (63) patchwork and pearl maker
December 15., 2012 – Gábor Szalka ceramist
December 16. – Ferenc Markovics (78) photographer
December 17-18-19., 2012 – Juilanna Nábrádi (74) glass painter
December 20., 2012 – Márta Dósa (62) silk painter
December 21., 2012 – Veronika N. Simon (65) painter
December 22 -23-24., 2012 – Tünde Gulyásné Tokaji (61) paper miller
December 27-28-29-30., 2012 – paintings of Lászlóné Bilcsik, László Buhnényi, Tamás Márk, Gábor Tóth, Zoltán Bende, Katalin Csomós
December 31., 2012 – Exhibition of new year’s eve piglets, petting piglets that bring good luck.

St Stephen Square Budapest

St Stephen Square Budapest in December

Also the children can enjoy an unequalled experience in the wooden hut of Society of Respect after 5 pm every day because they can encounter with Santa Claus personally!

Budapest is a multicultural city with many thousands of Jewish residents who will celebrate Hanukkah in Budapest. Don’t be surprised that you can also try Raj Rachel’s gorgeous Flodni at the Advent Market. Do try this rich Jewish cake at the market. And give Palinka a chance to heat you up a bit, a tiny bit on the chilly days. The best fruit palinkas will be sold at the market, so here is a chance to test the Hungarian spirit (carefully, its alcohol content is very high).

Budapest Christmas Light Painting / Building Mapping on the St Istvan Cathedral:

The 2013 Budapest Christmas market dates have not been finalized yet, but will be around the same time as the fair in 2012 (from Nov 30 to Jan 1)

The Opera House in Budapest is a must see during your Christmas holidays, or winter visit in Budapest, even if you are not an opera sort of visitor.

Christmas at Budapest Opera House

Christmas at Budapest Opera House

In late November, the Budapest Opera has its huge Christmas tree standing in its luxurious hall at the lavishly decorated main stairway.

Luckily the Hungarian Opera House is open even at Christmas, and throughout December. This makes the Opera House one of the best Hungarian Christmas gifts. Getting a ticket for the Christmas performances is not easy, so do book in advance via online.

Budapest Opera Christmas opening hours

Budapest Opera in December, 2017:

Dec 24, 2017: The Nutcracker Ballet
Dec 25, 2017: The Nutcracker, La Boheme
Dec 26, 2017: The Nutcracker
Dec 27, 2017: La Boheme
Dec 28, 2017: The Nutcracker
Dec 30, 2017: The Nutcracker
Dec 31, 2017: The Nutcracker

Budapest Nutcracker Festival

  • free Christmas concerts in Budapest
  • Hot Drinks booth by the Budapest Opera
  • Christmas Installations of Nutcracker Ballet

More Concerts in Budapest:

Budapest Christmas Concerts
Budapest New Year Concerts

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.

 

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

handmade chocolates from Cafe Gerbeaud

Budapest is one of the gems of the European Christmas Market Tours offered by various companies. One of them has made a short video of what to take home with you as Christmas gifts from the cities where the Xmas cruise in Europe stops at, like the Sacher torte from Vienna, or the handmade chocolates from Cafe Gerbeaud.

handmade chocolates from Cafe Gerbeaud

Handmade chocolates in wooden box from Cafe Gerbeaud, Budapest

Indeed, if you want to take home something elegant, and Hungarian as an affordable Christmas gift, the chocolates of the 19th century popular cafe and confectionery, simply called ‘the Gerbeaud’ by locals, will make anyone happy. Delicious, beautifully and elegantly wrapped in a wooden box.

You cannot miss Cafe Gerbeaud in the heart of the city on Vorosmarty Square, the square where the biggest and oldest Budapest Christmas Market can be found: Christmas Fair Vorosmarty Square.

Try their hot chocolate if you don’t want to drink the mulled wine of the Christmas market.
As you sail with the Viking river cruise visiting the European Christmas markets, each new day brings a different port, a different city, and different traditions. Also the new port cities offer plenty of time for shopping. Join Karine from Viking River Cruise is as sharing her favorite sweet gifts to be found in Passau, (Germany) Vienna (Austria) and Budapest (Hungary). At the end of the video you can see the beautiful Chain Bridge spanning the river Danube in Budapest.

Another good Xmas gift idea, is another Hungarian sweets, the masterful marzipan delicacies of Szamos, like the fancy fondant candy, which Hungarians traditionally put on the Christmas tree as a decor, the ‘szaloncukor’ from Szamos (yummy marzipan!).