Carnival in Hungary

European mumming customs come in seasonal clusters – I tend to focus on those in the vicinity of midwinter, but there are many that fall in the Carnival season around February.

Enter the busós of Mohács, Hungary. While there is a putative origin story for this custom revolving around driving off the Ottomans, in reality this is part of a constellation of traditions that have at their heart the driving off of winter and welcoming of spring.

All the important and popular themes are present: animal skins and horns, masks, large bells, ancillary characters dressed in rags and folk costumes, suspended social norms, and a threat of violence.

And they literally burn Winter at the end!

(P.S. There’s also a newly-opened cultural center called Busóudvar that displays mumming costumes and other historical items, perfect to add to my wish list of future museum visits.)


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