Sunday, December 17, 2006

You Just Can’t Escape Fruitcake!

Having spent one Christmas in Europe several years ago, I was looking forward to the Holidays in Hungary.
I was right in hoping for a saner Christmas. A calmer Christmas. No “Twelve Days of Christmas” blaring at me. My hopes were actualized! (Though I am still hoping for snow which we haven’t seen any of yet.)
Christmas did not begin on the day after Halloween. It was the end of November before decorations began to appear and stores started stocking Christmas candies, wrapping paper and those nasty artificial trees. The area devoted to Christmas items was much smaller. No boxed Christmas cards. Only 1 to 2 dozen individual cards to choose from. 6 to 8 wrapping paper varieties. A few ready-made bows or individual rolls of ribbon. Definitely a choice of Christmas CD’s. The stores were decorated, though not by our standards.
Christmas is a family time in Hungary. It officially begins on December 6th, St. Nicholas Day. Children put out a boot in their window and St. Nicholas visits them during the night. He leaves either a switch for a spanking or candy and tangerines in the boot.
Gifts are simple. No 100 packages under the tree. Trees are not put up until Christmas Eve and are done as a family. Fish is the traditional meal. This is a two day holiday, a tradition that started after the 1956 uprising. It was a plus they were given.
Houses are not decorated on the outside, though we have seen a few done simply. We had to put up lights on our flat. Thanks to Matt’s thoughtfulness, we had a string of cowboy boots and cacti to hang on the porch. We also put out a nasty little artifical tree. You can see our delightful decorations on this website.
Our faculty Xmas party was Friday night. An array of cold foods and lots of Palinka (Hungarian liquor), and Baileys!!!!! It was delightful, except for the fact that they served fruitcake!! There is no escaping fruitcake anywhere in the world! I bet even Inuits make fruitcake!
I had been asked about fudge and what it was. I decided to make some for Christmas and to take it into the faculty room. Hmmmm. I found out why they don’t make fudge in Europe. Finding the ingredients was a challenge I was unable to meet. I ended up using chocolate pudding mix, powdered sugar, vanilla and milk and butter. It is in the fridge supposedly setting up. I’m afraid to check on it. We may have fudge soup for breakfast!
We are expecting our son Jordan and his future bride Brit for the Holidays. They will arrive on the 22nd. We are terribly excited about seeing them and showing them parts of Europe.
I hope everyone who reads this has had a warm and wonderful family-centered Holiday season! (And NO fruitcake!)