Made in Hungaria – the positive side(s) of Hungarian heritage 

Although I’m writing specifically about Hungary, I’m using a picture of Finland. Not overly intentional, just the best one that worked.
In the spirit of fairness, one should also present the other side of the Hungarian coin, the hospitality, that razor-sharp wit you see in random comments on forums and pretty much anywhere – which may or may not account for the language itself. That act of extending a helping hand without ever expecting anything in return. The beauty of the language itself, the richness in music, literature, performance, music, and art. 

The hospitality is out of this world. My godfather is from the South (Alabama to be precise), and he really taught me about hospitality, extending it to friends and friends of friends. My mother’s culture prides itself on hospitality as well, but it’s one-on-one and self-serving (considering how much respect I have for that particular corner of the world, I’m willing to concede that I might be wrong, except that my mother has also always been huge on hospitality). Hungary is a cross between the two, the American South and its brother from another mother. 

But they have to like the guest, have to have chosen him or her (which is another way to explain their attitude towards refugees but why it was, and still is, perfectly ok for Hungarians to spread out abroad. We’ve chosen this country the logic goes. So this is perfectly ok). 

Hungarians are also super resourceful. We’ll make something happen no matter where we are, find a way. Except when it comes to fixing our own country. There we seem to draw one gigantic blank. I realize how incredibly Hungarian my own words sound. Defeated, ready to give up before we even began. 

We are also – and this may or may not be biased – born artists. Or rather, for those of us who perform, it’s not just that we have the perfect technique down pat. We bring something else into it, that little extra. I’m speaking in general terms here, but where Germans will have all the right moves, we will access and bring out the soul of the piece. Think of those with Hungarian heritage in any performing art and look at their performances. That deep understanding that really makes the piece. 

Family is everything to us, and in that we are fiercely loyal. Again, this might just be my friends, but the concept of family is also extended to stepsiblings and stepparents. Step-siblings especially seem to have a mutual understanding of us vs. them combined with, what did we do

We also have an interesting relationship with Death. We don’t like it, but we think nothing of singing about death, loss, and dying, and feeling we had a really good time. Compare English torch songs with their Hungarian counterparts, and the heartache is always due to death in nine cases out of ten. It wasn’t the woman that cheated on the man so much as life itself, God, whatever higher power took her away from him. When love is actually present, there’s always an urgency to it, Death is always waiting on the doorstep, peeking through the window, lounging around in the garden. Only a Hungarian could have come up with the concept of mixing metal with torch music and luring people by the thousands with the presentation and sound. And, making sure they all feel like they had a good time. 

I think it’s that understanding of Death always somehow being connected to love, life, and everyday chores, that makes me Hungarian, aside from my blood, from my genetic connection. Only an Italian (Coppola) would think to turn Mina Harker into the reincarnation of Dracula’s wife. Only a Hungarian (me) would assert that if you really think about it, Dracula is more of a love story than Romeo and Juliet, for what better way to show your love than join you in eternal damnation. 

Of course, since we’re already playing with the clichés, it might be worth mentioning that only an Irishman could weave such a fascinating story in the first place. And I’m not even a fan of Dracula or vampires other than the Coppola movie, the Bram Stoker novel, and Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian

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13 comments

  1. I was actually just in Budapest for 8 days in mid march. Really loved it!! The food was incredible, cheap, and ruin pubs were so much fun. I felt the hospitality only if it were merited like you said. Some people were extremely friendly and helpful, others were polite but acted as if they wanted you to get out of their hair as soon as possible. Still really love the country over all and hope to experience it more one day 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true. Really happy you liked it. And yeah, we are a special breed alright. Thing is, while there is a lot of racism and xenophobia, Hungarians are also like that with each other. If I’m having a bad day or moment, by God I will let you know. Funny thing is though, it works both ways. You don’t expect super great customer service. Commented on someone’s attitude in Germany once, and my Hungarian friend pointed out that it was surely trying to answer questions all day. But that is such a coincidence that you were here recently. Hope you make it back. I’m biased, but it is a pretty awesome place.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah I definitely had a lot of fun while I was there. Such an awesome place for sure! I went to Szimpla 4/8 days, lol. Then just played tourist during the day 🙂 Also saw a Jason Mraz concert for the 3rd time which was the best concert I’ve ever been to.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I used to avoid Szimpla like the plague, because of its It factor. Then I had to meet a friend of my brother’s there, and really loved it. It’s not a regular place, because I’m still obsessed with Art Deco, but it’s great for meeting friends, etc.

        You been the Hungarian crowds are that enthusiastic, or just the concert in general?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah I feel you on that one, it can be annoying meeting tourists all the time haha. It was epic 3 of the 4 nights I was there though. The concert was in an auditorium, so more of a chill backed concert. Jason Mraz was solo and acoustic for 2 hours was incredible.

        I actually didn’t meet that many Hungarians!! I liked the guys that worked the bar at my hotel loooool, they were awesome, but other than that I felt like I met more tourists when I was out and about. I was probably heading to too many tourist spots. I also remember the haunted house being the best I’ve ever been to because its so interactive.

        One night I stumbled into a random bar and got trashed with the bar owner, his friend another bar owner and his gf, and the second bar owner brought all these different breads with dipping sauces. That was a lot of fun. They were all Hungarian of course. That was about it though!

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s a really great experience about the bar. And what I mean about hospitality.

        You can be here as a student and not meet a single Hungarian. But those places are very touristy, and the Hungarians that do frequent them, are there in groups. It’s always that fine line though, tourist spots or locals. If you don’t have much time, tourists spots might be safer.

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