Lucy’s day tradition in Hungary- Christmas preparations and witches in Hungary
Lucy’s day tradition said on December 13 we remember Saint Lucy. With the introduction of the Gregorian calendar the longest night of the year fell on Lucy’s day tradition, and that is why the popular belief connected it to evil forces. There are very few days in the Hungarian calendar with a comparable variety of customs, beliefs, divinations and prohibitions attached to it. The popular belief knows two kinds of Lucies: the good one and the witch, the latter being more popular in the folklore. Let’s see why this is the most exciting day of the advent, the period of preparations for Christmas!
Lucy’s day tradition in Hungary
The Lucy’s day tradition when witches and magical people are wandering around, and whom the people must hide from. Even farm animals must be protected: their head is rubbed with garlic, and a cross is drawn at the door of their hutch. Snuff is thrown in front of the gates, and people eat bread with garlic to scare away the evil ghosts with the smell. The brooms are hidden as to prevent the witches from flying around on them.
Let’s see who the witch is!
The most widely known custom of Lucy’s day tradition is the making of Lucy’s chair. This is the day when the carving starts, but only one procedure can be made a day, yet the chair must be ready by Christmas Eve. It is brought to the midnight mass and if someone stands on it, they will see the witches.
For this day the girls prepared 12 dumplings, hiding a different man’s name in each of them. The dumplings are boiled, and the first one to come to the surface holds the name of their future husband.
Even the weather and the harvest could be foretold this day
Lucy’s calendar is part of the old Hungarian Lucy’s day tradition. It was said that the weather in January of next year will be roughly the same in that region as on Lucy’s day (December 13). The day after Lucy’s foretold the weather of February and so on until Christmas, which stood for the weather of next December.
The székelys foretold the weather from onions. They peeled off twelve layers of an onion, symbolizing the twelve months of the year. They poured some salt onto every layer. If the salt melted in a layer, that month would be rainy, while the rest would be dry.
Next year’s harvest was divided from the sprouting of Lucy’s wheat. Wheat seeds were put to germinate near the furnace, which would grow green by Christmas. Later, the altar would be decorated with the wheat sprouts.
Halloween pumpkin or Lucy’s pumpkin?
In Hungary, mainly on the Transdanubia, it was customary to make a lit Lucy’s pumpkin. On Lucy’s day the eyes, the nose and the smiling mouth were carved into the pumpkin. People placed the pumpkins in front of windows to scare each other. At nightfall, a candle was put into Lucy’s pumpkin for a more frightening effect.