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It is December 6: Santa Claus Comes Tonight in Hungary

The children of Hungary look forward to tonight, and the visit of Santa Claus or Saint Nicholas.  Each child usually St Nicholasreceives one or two items for Christmas.

The story of Santa Claus actually begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century on the southern coast of Turkey.  His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering.

He dedicated his life to serving God, and (like President Monson) was made a Bishop while still a young man.  Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, and his love for children.

The Roman Emperor ruthlessly persecuted Christians at the time, and Bishop Nicholas suffered much and was eventually put in prison.  After his release, Nicholas died on December 6, 343 AD.  The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration throughout Europe.

One favorite story about Bishop Nicholas tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman’s father had to offer prospective husbands something of value — a dowry.  Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries.  The bags of gold, when tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes (like they do in Hungary), eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas.  Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold.  That is why gold balls (represented as oranges) are placed into the stockings.

In Hungary, the coming of Santa (December 6) and celebrating the birth of the Savior (December 25) are separated by several days. On Christmas Eve, the families gather together for a fine meal.

Flower Boxes

We continue to be amazed at the number of flower boxes we see in windows in Hungary.  The boxes (and some flowers) are carefully matched to the colors of the houses.Flower Window Boxes

These flower boxes on the side of this home (above) show well with the white and blue house, and the cobblestone street.  It makes a nice picture.  If we change the picture to monochrome, and keep the flowers red and blue, then we have the following picture.Monochrome House with Flowers

Flower Window Box in HolokoThe house on the left is blue, but shows the flowers very well.

Even into November, the flowers continue to bloom, and the boxes are carefully tended by their owners.

Changing Tires

By November 1, everybody who owns a car in Hungary must put on their snow tires.  The mission cars have a special place in Budapest that changes the tires, and then keeps the ‘summer’ tires until they need to be changed in the spring.Changing the Car's Tires

The tire place is located deep underground in an area that is used for parking for one of the downtown malls.

Unfortunately, when we hadChanging the Car's Tires our tires changes, they did not keep track of where they had been balanced in the past.  This makes driving our car have a front-end vibration that shakes the whole car when we are driving at 110 kilometers per hour or faster.  The newer mission cars have the entire wheel changed, not just the tires.

Renting a Shopping Cart

All large stores (Tesco, Metro, Prakiter) that we have been to in Hungary have an interesting way of dealing with shopping carts. You select the cart you want, and then insert a 100 forint coin (about 50 cents). When we were new to the country, it was hard to read and understand the sign that showed over the carts (kocsi).Getting a Cart at Tesco

When the coin is properly inserted, the red section of the chain releases, and the cart separates from the other carts.  The cart then can be taken into the store and used for shopping.

After checking-out, and putting the items into your car in the parking lot, you take the cart back to the cart area, and insert the red section of the chain into the slot.  It pushes your coin out, and connects your cart to all of the other carts.Returning the Cart

This clever method encourages all shoppers to return their shopping carts when they have finished using them.


Creating Room for a Garage

One of our neighbors created room for a garage by doing the following:

  • Buy the neighbor’s house
  • Reduce the size of the neighbor’s house (cut it in half)
  • Build a garage and put in a nice driveway

We assume that this is what is referred to as ‘a house divided’.A House Divided


Cottage with Well

A few blocks from our apartment is this small Hungarian cottage with an associated well.  Many of the older houses have wells, and may of them still have the bucket on the end of a rope for pulling water up from the well.Hungarian Cottage with Well


A ‘nyaralo’ is a small piece of property that is owned by a Nyaralo's Vegetable GardenHungarian family.  Usually the family lives in a large town or big city (e.g., Budapest), where they are unable to have a garden.  The owners use the nyaralo as a place in which they can go ‘to get back into the country’, and away from the city life.Sister Bailey at a Nyaralo's Rose Fence

Most of the nyaralo that we have seen (there are several near our apartment) have both a vegetable garden and a flower garden.  They also have a shed that is used for their gardening tools and other supplies.  Most of the properties are surrounded by a high fence to keep thieves out.  Sister Bailey is standing next to a ‘rose-covered fence’ that surrounds one nyaralo.

Many of the ‘sheds’ are more like small cabins, and are frequently used by the family to stay (campout) one or more nights during the summer months.  We see many, many people actively working on these properties.

Elder Bailey at a Nyaralo

Out Our Back (Kitchen) Window

The foliage in this part of Hungary is full this time of year.  It had rained off-and-on for the past couple of days, and we had a bad thunderstorm last night.  The lightning was very close, and the thunder was loud and rolled-on for a long, long time.  We have seen very few houses with screens on their windows, and our apartment has no screens at all.  The windows are wide-open, but few bugs come into the house.The Foliage Out Our Back Window


Cherries are On

There are many cherry trees around ourTrees are Loaded with Cherries apartment in Szombathely.  The cherries were very plentiful this year.  People started picking the cherries starting about one week ago.

Many of the Branch members have come over to our yard picking the cherries.  We even found two of our young adults, Lala and Dio, up in the cherry tree picking cherries.

Lala and Dio in the Cherry Tree



Reading in the Evenings

We have been in Hungary for over four months, and we know little about what is going on in the rest of the world.  On evenings that we are not involved in something at the branch house, we spend a couple of hours reading (and snacking on a Milka candy bar).  We hardly ever watch TV, which has only one boring channel (CNN) in English.Reading in the Evenings

Our family gave us Kindles before we left, and we use them to access all kinds of books from Amazon.  We each can read a book every week or two. Our apartment has two old rocking chairs that are very comfortable for the evening reading.

© Copyright 2011 Our Hungarian Mission - By Bob and Brenda
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