The carnival or Farsang (how Hungarians call it) has no specific date, and it takes place every year between the Epiphany and Ash Wednesday. Farsang, the Hungarian Halloween, grew out of celebrations of paganism with a very diverse image: practically with noisy dazzle, joking, fooling, eating, drinking, and advent closure - a period of dating and courting. In Hungary, the carnival habits became established in the Middle Ages by the influence of many foreign folks. In my country, it is a more popular celebration than Halloween. There are some who are eager and active to take part in it, while others are more like enthusiastic observers of the celebration.
Ages ago, during the end of the winter season, but yet before the start of agricultural works, the balls and dance shows were organized in the villages, while the aristocracy threw fancy parties in the cities. To fling up these balls, they often dressed up, so the habit of wearing a mask during Farsang made the whole thing much more fun. These celebrations, often held in a luxurious setting, soon became one of the most popular, prestigious and important social events, and they even nowadays are. If you decide to be a part of a fancy ball hidden behind a particular mask, I believe it will make the amusement and an adventure of a lifetime.
Although the dance shows are more popular, you would surely enjoy the costume processions too, which are similarly beloved programs in rural villages and towns of my country. In Hungary, the most famous carnival-like parade is the Busójárás of Mohács. If we go international, two well-known events are worth highlighting to give you a hint regarding what is it all about: the Rio Carnival and the Venetian Carnival.
Let me also introduce you one of my favourite customs around Farsang time: the habit of so-called Gluttonous Thursday, or as the local people say "Torkos Csütörtök", which dates back to long ago. Nowadays, it is supposed to be a quasi-advertising concept, launched by the Hungarian Tourism Agency in 2005, with the aim of reviving the formerly popular folk tradition. Back in time, each year on Thursday after or before the beginning of Ash Wednesday, you could eat at whichever restaurant and whatever you wanted for the half of the original price. Even though last year the Hungarian Tourism Agency secluded itself from this event, the restaurants, bars and coffee shops are still insisting on it being held, which is really great news for guests and customers. This year, 29th of February is the day, to which let me recommend you my personal favourite place where you can order the finest Hungarian dishes: Mátyás Pince. I suppose you will eat a little more here anyway!
That's all folks! To sum it up, I really suggest you visit a masquerade at Farsang, the Hungarian Halloween - totally worth it! And anyway, who wouldn't like to hide behind a mask in public at least once in a lifetime?
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