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Published: February 22nd 2004
Lighting the fire
It isn't a cross burning - but a kind of scare crow figure representing winter.
The Busojaras Festival, Hungary, Mohács
Usually the town of Mohács
is a sleepy place, on the banks of the Danube in the south western corner of Hungary. An hour away from Pécs by bus or train. Every late February or early March this changes, the Busó's come out to play. Thousands of visitors join in the celebrations, and the town is a crowded party place, hot wine consumed by the barrel load, and everyone having a good time.
The Busójárás festival
celebrates the last day before the start of lent (Mardi Gras), and the end of winter in one go. A Busó is some type of devil, the men of the town (and a few of the women), dress in sheepskins, don frightening masks and scare away the winter, scare the tourists who come from all over Hungary, and drink the wine from year before.
The townsfolk put on the festival on the Sunday before so that the visitors don't have to take a day off work. This is the day I went. I went with Sári and a few of our friends.
During the day the celebration involves the building of a huge bonfire on the
The bonfire and a busó dancing around.
central square, dances and music on the stage nearby, the launch of a burning boat on to the Danube. After dark fireworks are launched, canons are fired with a deafening noise and the bonfire is lit. An effigy representing winter is burnt on top of the fire and people dance round and round until only embers remain.
I really enjoyed this festival, I ran around photographing things in the rain. Drank lots of hot wine, basically mulled wine, and danced around the fire with everyone else in the evening. From Pécs the bus journey was around 1 hour, extra buses were put on, but even so there were many standing and some had to wait till the next bus came.
Aside: When I was a kid I loved pancake day - the British festival of the pancake celebrated on Shrove Tuesday. Mmm all the lovely fatty batter with lemon and sugar and my mum trying to provide pancakes as fast as her four ravenous children could gulp them down. Now, I know about Mardi Gras, Busójárás festival's, carnivals and celebrations that make Pancake Day seem just ever so slightly sad. Do any other British people have this feeling?
I think Croatian, but I'm not an expert.
or just me. The thought of the jif lemon day adverts on TV.... cringe, maybe one day someone from Brazil will write with equal enthusiasm about this celebration... but I very much doubt it.
Blog news: I decided to work backwards updating my blog, I have about 16 entries to add, mostly in and around Hungary... will be adding things over the next few days.
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