Are Hungarians Hungry?
As a Hungarian whilst traveling the world, I am often asked ’Are you hungry?'. It's a joke I’ve heard many times before, so quite frankly it takes some effort to give a polite smile in response. On the other hand I am happy to hear the question as it shows curiosity and an opportunity to share information about my homeland with those who are interested.
When started writing this article my aim was to provide some interesting pieces of information about the 'magyars', but I kept thinking about the above 'hungry Hungarian' term. So I decided to collect a bouquet of the most common stereotypes about Hungarians and uncover the truth behind them. Read on to find out more.
Hungarian stereotypes – fiction or fact?
1) The country’s name comes from the word ’hungry’.
Though Hungarians like to organise big feasts to please their tastebuds so this could mean an actual connection to the word 'hunger', the truth lies elsewhere. The country’s name actually comes from the Greek word ’Ungri or Ugri’ referring to the Finno-Ugric language branch of the uralic language family. Other sources say that it originates from the Turkish word ’Onogur’ meaning ’ten arrows’. It’s also worth noting here that Hungarians actually call themselves ’magyar’ after the tribe who settled down in the area and the country ’Magyarország’.
2) The nation originates from Asia.
The ancient findings tell the story of the first Hungarians from the very early times of around 3000 BC Finno-Ugric tribes lived in the area of the Ural-Mountain and Ob-river on the Asian continent. Some of these tribes settled down for a longer period, some decided to take on the road along with nomad lifestyle. The later, who were Ugric speakers slowly moved towards the west.
Around 370 AD these tribes arrived by the gate of the Carpathian mountains in the area called Etelköz, but could not stay for long due to the hostile invasions of other tribes, called Pechenegs. The Hungarians decided that they wanted a land of their own for the long term and found that the land over the mountains could be perfect for this purpose.
Then they established the confederacy of 7 tribes and in 895 AD entered the Carpathian Basin led by Árpád vezér and settled down in the land that is part of Hungary today.
3) Hungarians are pessimistic and complaining all the time.
The sad truth is that Hungarians do tend to look on the dark side and they often blame this habit on the nation’s hardship in history – wars, dictatorships, economic depression, etc.
Even the National Anthem talks about the dark times. "O Lord, bless the nation of Hungary, With your grace and bounty, Extend over it your guarding arm, During strife with its enemies, Long torn by ill fate, Bring upon it a time of relief, This nation has suffered for all sins, Of the past and of the future!"
On the other hand they love to have a laugh, even if the joke is on themselves. For this reason sarcastic humor with its bitter-sweetness and stand-up comedy shows are very much enjoyed by the locals.
4) Hungarian women are beautiful.
Hungary has a reputation for beautiful women, though sadly the country has never won a Miss World competition. On the other hand there are several models and top models representing the Hungarian beauty in the world, such as Barbara Palvin and Enikő Mihalik nowadays.
5) Hungarians are great at hospitality.
Fact is that you cannot visit a local’s home without having a glass of beverage and some cakes or sandwiches. Hungarians are great hosts and they’d do everything to make their guests feel welcomed. They would even cook some traditional foods to show off their gastronomic knowledge and organise a screening of their holiday photos.
6) Local gastronomy is really fatty and spicy.
Hungarian cuisine such as goulash soup, sausages, stuffed cabbage rolls originate from the times when men would work on the land all day and would need a calorie-rich meal to regain energy. Today these meals are sometimes prepared using less fat but the spicies are essential to have a real Hungarian gastronomic experience.
7) Hungarians use as much paprika as salt and pepper.
My mom always says that paprika has to have great colour first and then great taste, meaning that it is essential for a good quality paprika powder to enhance the dish with the typical orangey-red colour. Traditional meals often list this spice on the ingredient list and truthfully a real goulash soup cannot be prepared without it. The most famous paprika procuders are around Kalocsa and Szeged.
8) Finnish and Hungarian can understand each other talk.
Though the two languages originate from the same language family - Finno-Ugric - there are only a few words that are similar in Finnish and Hungarians, so the two cannot understand each other.
9) Hungarian is one of the most difficult languages to learn.
Those who speak a language from the same language family, such as Latin, will discover similar words and grammar rules that supports them in learning the new language. Hungarian is part of small language family with a grammar logic that could be hard to encounter first. Throughout the history, Hungarians came in contact with other nations and as they learnt new techniques for cultivating the land, hunting and arts and crafts, the language also evolved with slavic, german, turkish, latin, and greek additions. Also the alphabet consists of 35 letters including ’ö’, ’ű’, ’gy’ and ’dzs’ . Overall Hungarian ranks as the 4th most difficult language to learn by the Foreign Service Institute of US Department of State, after Arabic, Cantonese and Japanese.
10) Hungarians spend their summer vacation at Lake Balaton.
This stereotype refers back to the Soviet Union times (1944-1991)when travelling outside the country boarders was very difficult and expensive. So locals prefered to vacation at one of the country’s lakes or rivers out of which Balaton was the most popular. Today Balaton is still highly popular among locals but those who prefer to explore the world often visit the nearby vacation spots in Croatia, Greece, Austria, Slovakia, Transylvania, and Italy.
11) Hungarians are exceptionally good at horse riding.
This myth has some truth in it too, though I must state here that not all Hungarians ride horses! When the magyar tribes were fighting for the land, they often used a trick to win over the enemy. They pretended to escape from the fight and were followed by the other warriors. Whilst they were riding on the horseback at full speed, they would turn back and shoot arrows and eventually won the battle. Today, horseriding and horse shows are still popular in the country.
I hope you found this overview interesting and have raised your curiosity to read on about Hungary. You may also find further articles in my profile at hubpages.
© 2013 Zsuzsi @ hubpages.com
© 2013 Zsuzsi