We all know that we don’t pat the back of a colleague in Korea to thank them for a “job well done”. Or eat with your left hand in India, or sip vodka in Russia. In many countries, these actions are harmless. But in others, they can give a wrong impression or cause offense.
In fact, whatever culture you’re from, it’s likely that you routinely do something that could cause offense somewhere else in the world. So here is:
A primer on how to avoid mistakes in Hungary
The 1956 Revolution continues to be a sensitive subject with the right wing community and many of the elderly. You shouldn’t discuss the Treaty of Trianon (1920) with nationalists – they can take it pretty sensitively. Open display of the Communist red star and hammer and sickle symbol, the Nazi swastika and SS symbols, and the Hungarian fascist Arrow Cross, is prohibited by law. Make sure your clothing does not have these symbols on it, even if it’s just a joke. You can be fined for it. Members of the Gypsy community may find the traditional Hungarian label ‘Cigány’ (pron. ‘tzigan’) slightly offensive, preferring to be labeled as Roma.
As a rural tradition, Hungarians affectionately refer to themselves as “dancing with tears in our eyes” (“sírva vígad a magyar”), as in a bittersweet resignation to the perceived bad luck in their long history. Avoid mocking Hungarian history and Hungarian patriotism. When entering a home, shoes should generally be taken off. Uncommon customs Even if you meet someone of the opposite sex for the first time, it’s not unusual to kiss each other on the cheeks instead of shaking hands as a greeting. It’s an old tradition (although nowadays not held by everyone) that Hungarians do not clink beer glasses or beer bottles. This is due to the legend that Austrians celebrated the execution of the 13 Hungarian Martyrs in 1849 by clinking their beer glasses, so Hungarians vowed not to clink with beer for 150 years. Obviously this time period has expired, but old habits die hard. This is not so much followed by the youngest generation.
With this, you had the primer on key facts about Hungary, and key facts on culture and customs. Another important part of the culture is the local food and the local drinks. Make sure you read our posts on Hungary food and drinks:
Other tips that you’d like to share on mistakes to avoid in Hungary? Please comment below.