Whenever you plan going abroad, you wonder what will be the cultural
difference, traditions, what are the people like and many more similar questions
which make it sometimes a bit scary, especially if it’s your first time going to
your destination and don’t know what to expect.
For those considering travelling, working, studying in Budapest, we recently put together a list of few societal norms that are distinctly Hungarian – some relatable, some are basic, others might be extraordinary.
Hungarians love to interact with others
Kiss on the cheek is a very common thing amongst locals. It’s so common that even some man tend to kiss their friends on the cheek when meeting them.
If you find yourself in a situation where you’re leaving a public place such as gym locker or a smaller coffee shop, you are expected to say goodbye. (”Szia!” – to a single person, ”Sziasztok!” – to multiple people, while both of these can be used as well as saying Hi when entering a place with the same rule)
[ Read more about fun things to you should try while in Budapest here ]
Hungarians Celebrate their name days
Now, this tradition is spread across the whole of central and eastern
Europe, in Scandinavian countries as well as western part of Europe. So this
habit might seem more unusual to those based outside Europe.
When you open any Hungarian calendar and look closely, you will see a different name written just next to every day.
For example, if your name was Katalin and today is 25th of November, you’d receive a little present, since it is your Name day.
To celebrate or wish your Hungarian friend or anyone else you know, say ‘’boldog névnapot’’, which ultimately translates
as ‘’happy name day’’. Females usually receive a little gift such as box of
chocolate or flowers. It is also common to get invited for a shot of brandy liquor (such as local Pálinka).
If you get invited to someone’s home, you’ll notice everyone takes off
their shoes at the doorstep before entering the apartment. Some say it’s
practical, others say they it’s a sign of respect towards the home or simply don’t
want to drag in the dirt.
Pay 10-12% more of the total in a restaurant
It is called the Service
charge. If you looks closely at the menu, at most restaurants (sometimes at the
last page) you will see a small notice that says the restaurant will charge you
10% of your total on the top of your bill.
So let’s say you ordered a lunch for 2 at a upmarket eatery and the bill was 10.000 HUF. You will be asked to pay 11.000 HUF as the 1000 HUF is the service charge fee. It also must be stated to you in advance of ordering (you can always question the charge if the menu doesn’t mention it).
If your service was impeccable, feel free to add an extra tip to your waiter. On the other hand, you can also refuse to pay it (the service fee) if the service was poor.
[ Find out about Budapest’s best local restaurants and bistros here. ]
Wine is life
With a wide range of vineyards all over the country and word-class grapes,
Hungarians are definitely proud of their wine. In fact, the first record of wine production in Hungary dates back to 5th
Tokaj, some might say the most famous wine region, located in northeastern Hungary, is well known for its Tokaji Aszú, also known as the ‘’King of wines’’ – a sweet wine with high sugar content, as well as Tokaj Furmint, which is a dry white wine.
One of the lowest minimum
wages in the EU.
Hungary is among the poorest countries within the EU. The Gross Domestic
Prouct (GDP) was worth 155.70 billion US
dollars in 2018 and according to Eurostat, the minimum wage in January 2020 was 487€/month,
making it the 4th lowest minimum wage followed by Romania (466€/month),
Latvia (430€/month) and Bulgaria (312€/month).
On a world scale, Hungary ranks n. 56 out the total of 192 countries with a median/average income of around ~$17,000/year.
Minimum wages within the Europian Union compared | © eurostat/europa.eu
Hungarian Parents must
name their child a pre-approved name
In Hungary, a child’s name must be chosen from a list of pre-approved names. If a parent wants to name the child by a name not on the list, they have to apply for approval, and their request will be considered by the Hungarian institute for linguistics.
It is safe to drink the tap water
Drinking straight from the tap is the norm in Hungary. The water is clean and fresh, so you can save both money and the environment by not buying bottled water.