It is exciting to see that Christmas meals are different not just in various regions within Hungary but also depending on specific family habits. Typical Hungarian dishes developed along the lines of old traditions, and later they were extended with, for example, German and English influences. In the time of our ancestors, for example, poultry was never served because turkey, duck or goose scratch backwards with their feet and it was believed to be a bad sign, so pork dishes were selected. All the more since pigs were killed from late November and quite a lot of fresh meat was available for Christmas – so liverwurst or fried sausages were an integral part of the holiday menu.
Fish was typical food for fasting
As we mentioned earlier, the traditional peasant dishes at Christmas were partly connected to superstitions. Poppy seeds, peas and beans symbolised abundance and apples symbolised fertility, so they definitely had a place on the table in salty or sweet form. Bean soup with carrots and sour cream, for example, was considered a festive dish in the north of the country. Elsewhere, bean soup appeared as a fasting dish – without meat and dairy products – just as sauerkraut, fish soup or fried fish used to. How does fasting come in here? One or two hundred years ago, people used to fast before Christmas, and this period also included 24 December.