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Get the masks out

MohácsPécs region

A few weeks all about partying and gastronomic experiences from the end of the Christmas season to the beginning of Lent. It’s carnival season. How do you say goodbye to winter?

The Epiphany is an important date in the calendar for two reasons. On the one hand, it closes the Christmas season, and according to folk customs, this is when you should take your Christmas decorations down. But the Epiphany also marks the beginning of the carnival season, which lasts until Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. 

The party kicks off at the end

Although the first week of January is still bitterly cold, the carnival is a joyous celebration about the arrival of spring. Perhaps this is why the peak of the carnival period is not really at the beginning but rather the last three days starting on Shrove Tuesday, when the weather is usually a bit nicer. This is the time of the winter farewell carnival, when the Mohács Busó Walk is organised in Hungary.

Make a bonfire

At the winter carnival festival, hundreds of people wearing traditional masks say goodbye to the winter in Mohács. Tens of thousands of visitors accompany them, and the town on the banks of the Danube gets really busy. The legend behind the Busó Walk goes back a long way, although it has little historical basis. Supposedly, the indigenous Sokac people, who had fled from the Turks to the swamps of the Mohács Island, got fed up with hiding, so they put on scary masks, made noisy tools, crossed the Danube in boats at night and drove the Turks out of the town. It is true that the masks are really terrifying and the Busó Walk has always been loud and scary. You have to see these young people, dressed as Busós, dancing around the fire lit on the main square, celebrating as the coffin, the symbol of winter, is burnt down. 

Women having fun in a manly way

Masks were, and are still worn not only in Mohács but all over the country during this period at carnival and masquerade balls. In the past, the carnival was also the time for choosing a partner and getting married because no weddings could be held during Lent. Many engagements took place at the balls and dances. Girls sent bouquets to the young men they fancied, via their relatives, and the boys proudly pinned them on their hats for show at the end of the carnival. Our ancestors held the women's carnival on the Monday after Carnival Sunday, when women could drink without limit and have fun like men. 

No time for a diet

According to tradition, the more you eat at carnival, the better the harvest will be. So it's worth putting the low-carb diet on hold for a bit. Fasting began on Ash Wednesday, but the feasts on the previous few days made it easier to start eating less. Especially since it was still allowed to eat the leftovers from the carnival on Fat Thursday, after Ash Wednesday. In recent years, many restaurants have revived the tradition of Fat Thursday, and guests are welcomed with special promotions. 


Typical carnival dishes are cabbage, pork and, of course, carnival doughnuts. They can be salty or sweet and with or without filling. Did you know that many superstitions are attached to doughnuts? In Szerémség (Syrmia), for example, people made them to ensure that storms wouldn’t blow the roofs off their houses. As the carnival season was also about finding a partner: girls gave doughnuts to the boys they fancied, and the boys endearingly called their lovers “donut”. If a couple broke a donut in half together, their wedding was almost certainly near because the ribbon running around the side of the donut was a symbol of the wedding ring.