If you are reading this English section, most probably you are an expat living in Budapest who, because of the virus, might be about to go through one of the most special moments of the year far away from your loved ones and basically left without options to enjoy in large groups of people the beauty that is Budapest during Christmas time.
Although the restrictions can always change, there are plenty of ways to get the best out of this Christmas season, regardless of the pandemic situation. If there is one thing about this time of year, is that the spirit of Christmas is not in the party but in us… so let’s take a look at some ideas for a good Christmas holiday in 2020, even if you are alone at home.
Watch “Home Alone”
An unexpected national tradition is that the American classic, Home Alone, is very, very, important for Hungarians. Rumor has it that it is so important for them that when a few years ago the Hungarian TV channel that has been broadcasting this movie for decades decided not to do it, caused a massive round of complaints online and in media outlets, to the point that the next year the film was advertised in advance to let Hungarians know it was coming back.
So, what better thing to do during Christmas, in lockdown alone at home, than watching Home Alone?
Get your favorite foods
Christmas is usually a time about family and sharing memories and meals with your loved ones, but take 2020 as the opportunity to make this Christmas about yourself. Sit down and make your ideal menu, and go get your favorite food! You can either prepare it yourself, or you can order it from a restaurant and support local businesses. As you know, they are also going through a tough time this year.
If you want some traditional Hungarian Christmas food, make sure you add these to your list: fish soup (halászlé), stuffed cabbage (töltött káposzta), beigli with walnut or poppy seeds, and gingerbread cookies (mézeskalács).
Buy yourself some Christmas presents
It was a tough year, so you better reward yourself for going through what was maybe be the most exhausting year we have had in a while. You might not have a Christmas tree (although you can order one online), but there is no reason for not having presents this year. If you are spending Christmas alone, go and get yourself some gifts, you’ve earned it! Just make sure you do all your shopping before the 24th! During the holidays, life in the entire country is put on hold and shops are closed for 3 days, so don’t expect to find anything open between the 24th and the 26th except for some grocery stores.
Although Christmas fairs will not be held this year, if you need a starting point, “Ajándék Terminál” at the Allee shopping mall is a good idea. It is a ‘marketplace’ with products by nearly 60 local designers including fashion accessories, jewelry, paper products, toys, perfumes, ceramics and home furnishings. It is open daily until December 24th, from 10:00 to 19:00 (if the regulations don’t change).
Take a ride on the Budapest Christmas Tram
Another nice tradition for people in Budapest is to go for a ride on the Christmas tram, which despite the limited lifestyle we have now, is already available providing us some festive cheer. It goes along several of the Budapest tram lines until the 6th of January.
You can check the schedule on the website of the Budapest Transport Company (BKK): www.bkk.hu/en. If you are a regular user of lines 2, 19, 42, 47, 49, 50, 56A, 59, 62A and 69, you might end up riding this illuminated tram simply while you go home from work. It is accessible with a regular public transport ticket. Don’t forget to wear your mask on board – take care of yourself and others!
Get some mulled wine and enjoy a nice walk along the Danube
As we are spending so much time trapped at home on our couches, going for a walk can be a refreshing part of the day. This year the lower temperatures started a bit earlier than usual, so a walk around Budapest while drinking mulled wine is one of the best plans for the upcoming days. Just like the illuminated Christmas tram, Budapest’s main streets are already decorated and giving us the traditional look that makes Budapest even more beautiful every year.
Go sledding to Normafa
Once the snow reaches the hills of Budapest, sledding is always a free and fun program that you can enjoy in the open air. Normafa is one of the most visited places in Budapest to enjoy the snow, either to take a short walk in the forest or to sled down the hills. It is also very easily accessible by public transport, just take the metro line 2 to Széll Kálmán tér and from there take the bus 21 or 21A until the Normafa stop.
Shop and support local LGBT organizations
The HUMEN shop is open and accepting orders! In addition to our own line of products, you will find products from local companies that proudly stand up for the LGBTQ community and its visibility, and their products represent premium quality.
The revenues of the Humen Shop contribute to the survival of Humen Magazine and Humen Online, and with your purchase you can also support Hungarian non-governmental organizations of your choice. Go to www.humen.shop to find out more!
As you see, the virus cannot be a reason to prevent this season from staying special. It is all about getting the best out of the current situation and making sure that not matter what this is a time to rejoice. It doesn’t matter if you are alone, with friends or with family, 2020 is coming to an end… and that is definitely something most of us are eager to celebrate!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the HUMEN Magazine team!