Christmas markets are a traditional site in many central European countries, and Hungary is no exception. How these markets formed is a good question, and when they became official is another one for the ages, but as far as the people living in these countries is considered, these seasonal markets have been around forever, and have a tradition that is basically timeless. Each country treats its markets differently, and they all have different traditions and merchandise, but there are quite a few things that are common all across the board. In this article, I will be talking about the general aspects of Hungarian Christmas markets, and listing a few as well.
The most important difference between a Christmas market and any other establishment is the spirit its conducted in. This spirit can be felt most in the wares that are being sold. Only handcrafted merchandise can be sold, and only ones that were made by local craft-makers. The committees and law makers who set up the markets are very stringent when it comes to enforcing these laws, and evaluate every merchant individually to see that they fit the description. The wares being offered are also similar in their quality and pricing; they are all extremely high quality, unique and handmade things, and are a bit more expensive than their store bought cousins. There are smiths, leather workers, furriers, bag makers, wool and linen crafts folk, makers of instruments, toys and anything wood, not to mention tinsel, glass and other more delicate crafts as well. There are even gingerbread makers and bookbinding stalls as well.
A christmas market is different also in that ti is outdoors, and involves merchants in stalls waiting for their people to come on by. There is always fair food at these places (lots of meat, sausage, carbs and hot wine, not to mention funnel cake and various sweets), and most of it is cooked on the premises.
There are several christmas markets in the city, and since the original ones with the good quality wares became popular, every smaller square in Budapest has opened one. Here is a list of the good ones, ones that are not tourist traps and that have good, local handcrafts for sale at reasonable prices.
Vörösmarty square: This one is the original market, if there is only one you visit this year, make it this one. All of the other markets are fashioned after this one, and it has two stages of folk and childrens music, as well as classical pieces from time to time, and a childrens corner where the kids are taught handicrafts and can engage in fun activities. One of the biggest food stalls as well.
The Basilica: The Christmas market at the Basilica is one of the best ones, and is geared more towards religious folks than anyone else, and you can get many Christian gifts for friends and relatives here, as well as the traditional lot mentioned above.
Deák square: Much more common and crass than the other ones is the Deák square market, with mostly food and alcohol being offered, but a few stalls do their best and sell their wares here as well. You can get non local stuff here as well, and many cheaper things are available at the Deák square market.