At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in Hungary. The main celebration is on Christmas Eve (it's Szenteste in Hungarian, meaning Holy Night) Familiy members get together in the afternoon on 24th December and decorate the Christmas tree. Grandparents or elder brothers and sisiters look after the little ones, so they won't see their presents placed under the tree.
The fragrant fir is adorned with colourful paper decorations and a special Hungarian Christmas candy (szaloncukor) wrapped in shinny coloured papers.
Housewives cook traditional Hungarian Chrismas dishes in the kitchen. We usually have fish soup, stuffed cabbage, pastry rolls stuffed with poppy seed, walnut or chestnut stuffings (it's called bejgli in Hungarian) and makosguba (another pastry with poppy).
Family members exchange gifts in the evening on 24th December while listening to tradtitional Christmas songs. In Hungary baby Jesus brings the presents and sometimes the angels, not Santa. We celebrate the arrival of Santa on 6th December, St. Nicholas Day.
At midnight a lot of people go to the midnight mass. Organ music and pine scent fill the air in churches where people sing together classical Christmas songs.
Even non-religious people attend this mass beacuse of its festive and uplifting atmosphere. On the following two days relatives and friends visit it each other have traditional Christmas dishes and desserts.