News from Hungary

In Hungary, the Christmas festive season remains real Christian experience

Hungarian christmas

For adult Hungarians, the Christmas festive season continues to be a defining Christian experience. On the occasion of Jesus' birthday, one-fifth of Hungarians regularly, and one-third occasionally participate in church ceremonies, with even higher ratios in rural areas - as per a survey by the Saint Stephen Institute.

According to research by the Saint Stephen Institute, Christmas remains the most cherished holiday in Hungarian society, celebrated practically by everyone within their most important community, namely their family. 93% of respondents answered ‘yes’ to celebrating Christmas, while 7% – primarily non-Christians – answered ‘no’. There were no uncertain or non-respondents, meaning everyone gave a clear answer to the question.

Interestingly, it was noted that the highest percentage, 95%, of those celebrating Christmas are young people aged 18-39, while 90% of those aged 40-59 said ‘yes’. The statement also highlighted differences based on educational level: while 90% of those with lower education celebrate Christmas, this ratio rises to 97% among those with higher education.

The institute also observed a similar difference concerning financial status: 87% of those with below-average financial status celebrate Christmas, compared to 94% of those with average, and 97% of those with above-average financial status.

In the survey, participants were also asked which holiday they find most endearing. From the given options (Christmas, Easter, family birthdays, and name days), over half of the respondents, 54%, chose Christmas as the “most beloved holiday of the year”, followed by family birthdays and name days at 37%, with only 4% choosing Easter, and 5% unable to or choosing not to answer.

Regarding with whom Hungarians celebrate Christmas: 95% of respondents spend the holiday with their family, 3% alone, and only 1% with friends, though this latter ratio is slightly higher, at 3%, among those aged 18-39. The data was summarized as supporting “the importance of the family as the primary human community, as the celebration of our most important holiday also occurs within this context.”

Finally, the survey asked whether Hungarians participate in church ceremonies during one of Christianity’s most important holidays: 20% of respondents said they attend a church ceremony every Christmas, while 32% do so occasionally. Nearly half, 48%, never participate in a church ceremony during Christmas. It was added that the proportion of regular churchgoers at Christmas is higher among those with better financial status, those raising children, those with higher education, and residents of small towns. Among those who never attend church ceremonies at Christmas, the highest proportions are seen among Budapest residents and those aged 18-38, as per the research findings.

Source: MTI

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