Robin-Lee

It's up for debate

The Hungarian Mummers

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Some masked Busós in Mohács town square, February 2006 (Source: Wikipedia)

Some masked Busós in Mohács town square, February 2006 (Source: Wikipedia)

The Mummers Parade came and went in Philadelphia, and I got a glimpse of some extraordinary costumes and a listen to jaunty folk music which all ended in a drunken, litter-strewn after-hours brouhaha in front of my apartment complex down South 2nd street, the original route of the parade.de

Soon, it’ll be time for Busójárás, a Hungarian celebration that has its roots in the time of the country under Ottoman rule. In a small town overtaken by the invading Ottamans, a contingent of Hungarians living in a nearby copse of woods schemed to scare away the invaders with widdled wood masks with mop-top hair and terrify them with the racket of wooden ratchets.

Pasqueflower, one of the few plants that pop up at the tail end of winter

Pasqueflower, one of the few plants that pop up at the tail end of winter

Though a legend that may actually be a mere allegory for scaring away winter than anything, the tradition lives on today in that very town, Mohács (“Mo-haatch”). Following a bus ride south from Budapest with my then-roommate/traveling buddy, we drank copious amounts of mulled wine, got molested by masked Busós (not me, actually, but all the women in my group), and watched as the townsfolk burned an effigy representing either a Turk or “Winter”, depending on your interpretation.

The initial stages of my papier-mâché Busójárás mask -- the completed mask, along with a Japanese and Venetian mask, was left at my downtown Budapest apartment

The initial stages of my papier-mâché Busójárás mask — the completed mask, along with a Japanese and Venetian mask, was left at my downtown Budapest apartment

This year’s festivities have been heralded by an usually dramatic and slow, sentimental YouTube video. Regardless, to this day, I still regard Busójárás as the best festival I’ve ever attended, and, should you be in Central Europe between February 4th and 9th, I highly recommend grabbing the earliest bus to Mohács and revel with the horned beasts of Hungarian yore.

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Written by Robin Lee Dunlap

January 31, 2016 at 9:55 pm

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