The start of spring allows for a unique and unparalleled look into the folk traditions of Hungary. It is this time that the masks of the Busó come alive, and some very old surviving pagan traditions- of course in a sanctified layer of Christian explanation- are shown to the world. For five days the Busó will rule Mohács, and the old tradition of Farsang will be celebrated from February 20-25. Join us in the revelry, and don’t forget your costume!
Every year, just before the Lenten fast, Farsang, the Carnival of the East is celebrated. A potent mixture of Catholic heritage and pagan traditions, this is the time when Spring starts and the big celebrations that give us the power to work hard in the coming months are held. This is the last big hoorah before Catholics give up the things they love for Lent, and when the ancient celebrations of fertility, of the awakening Earth, are repeated.
What to expect
Busójárás is the tradition of Mohács that is unique among the Farsang celebrations. Just as the Carnival in Rio or Venice, Farsang is inexorably connected with getting dressed up and partying. In Mohács, this is done through the awesome Busó costumes. Young men hide their faces behind scary masks of devils, wear the “suba” of herdsmen (these are large, woolen coats that touch the ground), and pull pranks, practical jokes and mischief of every kind. Even little children attend, as fun and colorful masks and fancy dresses fill the streets of Mohács for 5 unforgettable, family friendly32 days.
What to bring
If you like rural tourism, hikes and folksy activities, Mohács, and the Busójárás will be ideal for you. Bring warm clothes and galoshes for sure, as the roads get muddy, and the weather is still rather cold, especially at night. There will be food, wine, strong pálinka, sweets for the kids, and most importantly: song and dance! If you are planning on going, be quick with accommodations, as this is an incredibly popular activity, both with Hungarians form all over the country, the rather large Serbian and Croatian minority living in this part of Hungary, and of course tourists from all over the world.
What to do
From Thursday on the 20th all the way to the Tuesday leading up to Lent, song and dance, as well as running wild in the streets will be the main focus of the activities at the Busójárás. On the 20th there will be a huge communal dance in the town square, complete with ceremonial bonfires and feasts for all the senses. This is a time for children, when they can pick out the masks they want to wear, and listen to some concerts specifically for them. The following day, the 21st of February, meetings of Busó all around the city, as well as performances on the outdoor stages will commence, and many plays and explanations of the surrounding traditions will be held. On the 22nd, the real feasting begins, and the Carnival like aspect of this amazing event will unfold. Both South Slavic and Hungarian folk dance will be presented, to show the diversity of this area. The next day, the 23rd is Sunday, the “proper” day of Farsang. This is the day of the Carnival, and it must be seen to be believed. All day, the Busó will rule the streets, and fairs, potlucks in the open plains, wine, song, and dance will make this day unforgettable for visitors. The Monday afterwards is usually spent in Church or in the theater, with many performances, but then Tuesday night, the great bonfire will be lit. This is to signify the burning of care and worries coming from past years, and to help us forget our troubles, and have a positive outlook for the busy Spring and Summer time.
How to get there
Mohács is a rather secluded town, in fact, it is the Southernmost Hungarian town on the Danube, right on the border with Croatia. It is merely 190 kilometres from Budapest, and you can take the M6 highway to within 10 kilometres of the city itself. You can get to Mohács by train as well, by going to Pécs and then taking a bus or connecting railway, but a car is much easier and faster. Mohács has two railway stations, so make sure you see which one your accommodations is closest to.