Interesting facts to get to know Hungarians better
If you ask me how Hungarian people look like, it would be hard for me to find a stereotype to describe them. Most Hungarians look different from each other. Not all Hungarians are blond, or tall, or have certain common features. They come from many different backgrounds, therefore they have different features. But there is something that if I have to generalize I would say that most women are beautiful and men are good looking.
And where is all this mixture coming from? Well, it all started from the time the Magyars settled down in the Carpathian Basin (896). At that time they started living with people who were already there and throughout the history they had to deal and live with Tartars and Turks, the Hapsburg who repopulated devastated areas with Slovaks, Germans, Slovens, Serbians and Romanians, just to mention some.
So, you can find Hungarians with Turkish, Slovak, German, Croatian, Serbian, Jew, Russian and Romanian backgrounds and physical features. Even within the Hungarian language you can find traces of this interesting fusion.
The Hungarians: A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat is a book to get to know in detail about Hungarian tragic history .
Hungarians are hard working people who have survival personalities. They are great savers, especially in difficult times. They are not fond of credits, not even to mention credit cards. They always prefer to save the money they need and then buy what they need than to acquire any debt with a bank. However, times are changing and slowly Hungarians are becoming big spenders.
Hungarian’s Cultural Traits
The Hungarian culture is diverse and varied, diverging from Budapest to the eastern and western borders of the country. Hungarian people are known to respect women, elders as well as ancestors. Being God fearing people, Hungarians do not fear death, believing it is nature’s destiny.
They do not believe in mysticism or life after death. Hungarians are artistic people, known for wide interest in music, poetry, literature, art, chess, science, and mathematics. They give wide recognition to talent and appreciate talent, humor, knowledge and sensitivity.
Hungarians are very intelligent people who have contributed greatly to the world in many areas such as science, arts, music and technology. Zoltan Kodály, Béla Bartok, Franz Liszt, Victor Vasarely, Estee Lauder, Albert Szent-Györgyi and Joseph Pulitzer are just a few names of the long list of famous Hungarians.
Hungarians consider themselves very talented in sports, and they are indeed. They out stand in fencing, wrestling, pentathlon, swimming, water polo and canoeing.
Hungarian Traditions and Beliefs
Hungarian people believe in strong familial values. It would not be wrong to say that family is the center of the Hungarian social structure, providing both financial and emotional support for its members. In Hungary, generations of extended family support each other and live together, with the family comprising biological parents, grandparents, and usually two children.
Hungarian people invest time and emotions in nurturing a long-term friendship relationship. They feel one person cannot take the place of another. You can count on your Hungarian friend at any time of the day and they would expect the same commitment from you. Personal relationships are in fact seen as “social capital.”
They expect friends to share intimate personal details with each other. If you are in Hungary and become friends with a Hungarian, do not be surprised if you are asked personal questions, as this is part of the familiarizing process. They would not feel shy in sharing even their romantic life with their friends.
They believe personal chemistry facilitates many tasks, making lives bearable and even enjoyable at times. Hungarian women are dedicated mothers and wives brought up with traditional values about taking care of family. They are excellent bakers and experts in culinary arts.
Traditional Hungarian women basically postpone their professional career to stay home bringing up their kids until their offspring are at kindergarten age. ( 3 years old)
Customs and Etiquette in Hungary
If a Hungarian invites you to their home, bring a box of chocolates, liquor or flowers as a gift for your host and their kids. Do not feel shocked or offensive if your host asks you to remove your footwear outside before entering the house, it is a habit and it is very normal here. Hungarian people are known for their punctuality.
Arrive on time for a dinner to a Hungarian’s home. However, if you are invited to a party in Hungary, ensure that you are not late than 30 minutes. Bringing flowers is considered auspicious in Hungary, but Hungarians do not like to receive lilies, or chrysanthemums.
When introduced to a Hungarian, women and men shake hands. Among friends, Hungarian women greet themselves by giving one kiss on each cheek, starting from the left. Men shake hands, although among family members they sometimes kiss each other in special occasions . Hungarian women are physically very attractive and like taking care of their appearance, most of them believe in the fashion mantra “skeleton equals sexy.”So, you will find that most Hungarian women dress on a trendy style.
Hungarian people follow continental table manners, holding the knife in the right hand and the fork in the left while eating. Guests should not start eating before the hostess begins. Once you have finished your meals, keep your fork and knife parallel to the right side of your plate.
Wine and beer are part of every Hungarian dinner and party, so heavy drinking is somehow common with the middle aged men and women. But this does not mean that Hungarians are not responsible people. In fact, Hungarian people are known for being self reliant and responsible. In Hungary, the traditional pattern of aggression is directed more toward self than at others, and this is the reason Hungarian people believe it is better to find faults in themselves than in the other person.
Business Etiquette in Hungary
Hungarian people strictly follow etiquette in dealing with different situations and expect the same from others. While in Hungary it is common practice to greet each other by shaking hands, it is always better to wait for women to extend their hand.
If you are a woman, do not be surprised if a man kisses your hand when greeting you. It is an old tradition of great respect still in use by few Hungarians. In fact, in Hungary the formal way to greet a woman is saying, “kezet csokolom” that means “I kiss your hand”. Nowadays it doesn’t really happen, they just say it.
Hungarians introduce themselves by their last name first and usually use their titles. Keep in mind that a “Doctor” can be either a medical doctor, a lawyer or a holder of a Ph.D. An important part of the relationship building process in Hungary is socializing, and face-to-face meetings are the Hungarians’ preferred choice for communicating with each other.
They detest other vehicles of communication, including letters. Hungarians are straightforward and often use jokes, stories, or anecdotes to prove their point, and they expect the same from others. They dislike vague statements. However, Hungarian people tend to easily suspect reticent individuals who conceal their innermost thoughts.They believe that eye contact indicates sincerity and expect others with whom they communicate to look them in the eye.
While scheduling meetings with Hungarian businesspersons, you may find it difficult to get clearance for Friday afternoon. Even it might be difficult to schedule meetings from mid-July to mid-August. Also avoid scheduling meetings from mid-December to mid-January. Cancelling a meeting at the last minute is considered rude, which could even ruin a business relationship.
No business deal in Hungary can be expected to be finalized without prior partying. You cannot expect to reach an agreement with Hungarian people without giving them complete details about it. Being skilled negotiators, Hungarians do not like high pressure sales tactics.
Hungarians are extraordinary people who have survived the worst of times but still have managed to keep alive their customs, traditions and language despite adversity.The Hungarian language is a unique, complex and wonderful language totally detached from all major linguistic groups and it is spoken in only one tiny country, Hungary. It is a superstar language that has survived generations of attempts to make it disappear.
If you are interested in getting to know about Hungarian people in more detail I recommend you read Culture Shock! Hungary: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette, a book that gives you a deep inside of the Hungarian Culture in all senses. It is written by Zsuzsana Ardó, a Hungarian journalist.