What to know about Hungarians

Vivi Bencze | Live the World

November 23, 2022

In the following article I do not want to write about which Hungarian cities are worth the visit, what a fantastic capital city we have, and not even about the endless number of programs available for tourists in the country, but about what foreigners, travelling to Hungary shall keep in mind and know about local people.

I tried to gather the most important information about my compatriots, which on the one hand hail from my own self-criticism and on the other hand from my experience, based on the general opinions of Hungary’s foreign visitors. I myself also consider it important to map out first, what is waiting for me in a given country, and what kind of culture and customs characterize local people, when I travel to a particular place. This way, I have the opportunity to see their everyday life, through their glasses a little. So let's do it!

„Hungry Hungarian in Hungary.” Not funny. At all

Okay, I guess it is, for you. However, less for us, concerning the fact, that the word connection is so overworked, that it’s such a bore. When we learned English in elementary school, it was already embarassing at 10 to joke around with it. If you tell it to a Hungarian, you will get an enforced, awkward laugh at most in return.

You can tell jokes though, we like it a lot

Hungarian people are fundamentally well known for their good sense of humor. Our strength is, that we are able to keep up our joy even in the greatest misfortune, and banish the bitter days with humor. The country's history goes back a long way, and as a result of the two world wars, over the last 100 years, the country has suffered a lot of blow, that affects its economic situation, so there are many broken faces on the streets, but humor as a superpower lies therein everyone.

„Do you speak English?” ’Just a little’

It is a sad fact, that lacking of strength in foreign language knowledge is generally typical to Hungarians. If you are approaching someone on the street, asking for directions, unfortunately, there is a great chance, that you will not get a useful answer, or you can just hardly talk with the person. I suggest, that you are primarily trying with young people in their twenties. Out of those, who speak a foreign language, 70% of them speak in English, and 30% in German.

„Do you need some pálinka?” Yes, you do

Pálinka is the national drink of Hungary, of which it is very proud. Especially when someone offers one, which he has made with his own hand. In this case, if you want to avoid a wrinkling forehead from the host, you’d better drink at least one shot of the intense drink. By intense, I mean 50-60% alcohol content, which is though able to burn our throats, but with its nice and fruity flavor, I honestly recommend tasting it (there are lots of type of it). But keep in mind, that if you are about to have fun, take care of some lighter drinks, for example a good domestic wine - if you want to blend in after all -, otherwise you’re going to spend the half of the next day lying in bed, feeling dizzy in a spinning room.

We are great hosts

if you have already found someone to communicate with, and/or you are staying at a Hungarian citizen’s, or maybe just a local resident is your guide, you can be sure, that he will do his utmost to make you feel good and leave with the best feeling, when you are going gome. The average Hungarian is a rather receptive and open-handed type. Even if you are in the poorest shanty, in the poorest village of the country, they will still find something they can give to you.

A brief historical overview

Our history leads back roughly until around 1000 BC, so we have a very rich history. Owing to this, the national consciousness of Hungarians is very strong, so we do not like, if someone talks about us disrespectfully. For a long time the country had been a great power in Europe, but the two world wars in particular weakened the once thriving country of ours. The sorest point of our history is 1920, as after the defeat in World War I, 2/3 of the country with millions of Hungarians were disannexed. Currently, we are among the economically less prosperous countries, which is actually very beneficial for most foreign tourists, considering the low prices, but beyond our unique natural values, Hungary still can offer you much, much, much more. Especially now, as you already aware of what to know about Hungarians.

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