Hungarians - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefe. Approximately 62 percent of the Population is Roman Catholic, 25 percent Protestant, 3 percent Eastern Orthodox, 1 percent Jewish. Some of the practices combine elements of Christian and ancient pagan folk beliefs and customs.

Ceremonies. Some of the most important celebrations of the church calendrical year include namedays ( névnapok ). New Year's Day, Carnival (Farsang), the village patron saint's day ( búcsu ), Easter, Whitsuntide, All Saints' Day, and Christmas. In addition, rituals tied to the agricultural calendar include new bread, harvest, and grape-harvest festivals. National holidays commemorate significant historical events.

Arts. There is considerable regional differentiation in Hungarian folk art. Still, most designs are floral, and often even the geometric motifs are turned into monumental and colorful flowers. On furniture, wood carvings, paintings, and pottery patriotic symbols such as heroes of liberty, the national shield of Hungary, and the red, white, and green of the national flag appear. Pentatonic music, csárdás dances, and traditional rural architecture are also noteworthy representations of Hungarian art. Of course, urban forms of literature and the plastic arts have consistently represented all significant artistic expressions known throughout Europe.

Medicine. Since the early 1950s, Hungarian medical care has been socialized. Women give birth in hospitals rather than at home, and regional doctors and medical clinics take care of the ill. Among other things, drafts are assumed to cause some infirmities. There are home remedies, such as herbal teas and compresses, that are believed to help various health problems.

Death and Afterlife. A number of ancient beliefs and customs still surround the dying and the dead, as well as the mortuary practices and funerals. It is believed that before leaving for the life hereafter, the deceased's spirit lingers on for a while in or near the body. Elaborate rituals both during the preparation of the body for the coffin and during the funeral procession ensure that the spirit will not cause harm to the living but that it can find its way to the netherworld. Both urban and rural people sometimes consult seers ( halottlátók ), who act as mediators and through whom they communicate with their dead.

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