Welcome to Debrecen!


The Hungarian Santa

The traditions of Christmas and Santa in Debrecen mirror those of other cities and countries in Central Europe, which are very different to Western Europe. In Western Europe Santa visits on Christmas Eve, whereas in Central Europe Santa comes on the eve of St Nicolas feast day (5th December) or on the feast day itself on the 6th December.

It seems Santa can’t manage Western Europe and Central Europe in one night!

Santa online
Online Santa

He also seems to go by different names in different places. His alias in Hungary and more widely in central Europe is Mikulás or Szent Miklós, which is St Nicolas Day is also the “names day” of those with the name Miklos, a common name in Hungary.

In the western world Santa is married, but in Hungary he seems to be a free agent, with no sign of Mrs Santa anywhere in folk law.

Santa’ helper elves are also absent in Hungary, although Szent Miklós does have a good angel he can rely on to help out, the angel is responsible for rewarding the good kids with nice presents like fruit, sweets, nuts or even toys. He also relies on a nasty elf called “Krampusz” often illustrated as a devil who serves up “gifts” for the naughty, – gifts which no-one would want, such as an onion, potato or carrot, or a butch of twigs or a lump of coal.

On the days leading up to St. Nicolas Feast day, gold or silver sprayed “switches” are sold on the streets by street vendors and in some stores. These can only be described as a light version of a cane for striking the naughty children, – although no longer actually used in this day and age, – a visual deterrent from times past that remain part of tradition.

Often there is a mix of good and bad gifts reflecting the each child’s overall behavior.

No-matter the selection of gifts, in order to qualify for any at all, children must leave out beautifully polished boots outside their door on Szent Nicolas Eve, because naturally that is where the gifts are placed.

In Debrecen, the tradition is for Santa to be available to children in Kossuth Square on 5th December on the eve of St Nicolas Feast day, prior to rewarding them that same evening, however due to the pandemic this will not be possible this year.

That is not to say Santa is not available at all, apparently he is available for meeting children online by pre-appointment.

Image source : https://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/02/12/2020/Hungarian-Santas-ditch-the-chimney-for-the-internet?