And Carnival had arrived. Like every year, we were trying to get away from the party. But in 2015 it was different. We were living in Budapest, Hungary, and it was already the end of winter.
In a street next to the park, a poster indicated a different event that would happen in another city. It caught our eye. It was Busójárás.
At home I put the name on the internet and I found it! This is a traditional event that has been taking place for years in the town of Mohács, in the interior of the country, near the border with Serbia.
And there we went to find out how to go to Mohács in the middle of Carnival Saturday.
Getting to Mohács
In the site rome2rio that we always consulted to know how to get from one point to another on the map, it was easy to see that both bus and train went to Mohács. We opted for the bus, which went direct from Budapest on a trip of about 5 hours.
A little bit of History…
Mohács is 210 km from the Hungarian capital, a small town of about 17 thousand inhabitants, which is famous for the carnival festival and also for the Battle of Mohács, held on August 29, 1526 between the Hungarian army, Headed by Louis II, and the Ottoman Turks under the leadership of Suleiman the Magnificent. It even has a monument referring to this event.
The arrival was very quiet and soon at the bus station they already had signs indicating the programming of Busójárás. And the music in the distance also did not let anyone get lost.
Busójárás is a celebration of the Šokci (ethnographic group of southern Slavs) inhabitants of Mohács, which occurs every winter.
A little bit more of History…
There is a legend about the beginning of Busójárás. It occurred at the time of the Ottoman invasion in Mohács, when the population fled of the town and went to live in the marshes of the surroundings. In a difficult situation during the winter, when several people were talking near the fire, an old man appeared and said: “Do not be afraid, your lives will soon improve and you will be able to return home and to the quiet daily life. Therefore, make frightening masks, prepare robes of animals and get many tools to make noise, and wait for a night of storm, when you will receive a call from the masked rider“. And the old man disappeared so suddenly when he appeared in the midst of the fire.
And so they did. They waited, and on a dusk in torrential rain, the rider appeared and ordered them to put on the masks and return to Mohács making as much noise as possible. They followed his order. The Ottomans were so frightened by the noise, the masks and the storm that they thought demons were attacking them and fled the city before dawn. From there, every year, celebrate the return to the house.
Already another legend presents the same situation, but it would be to scare the winter itself!
Whatever the legend, the town is even today organized and decorated for the celebration, which lasts six days. Busójárás starts on the Thursday before Carnival and goes on to Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras (Farsangtemetés), when the biggest celebration takes place.
Throughout the day, men dress in pet pegs and wear scary wooden masks, along with various adornments of tools and rural produce. They are the Busós (pronounced buchos). The women wear typical dresses, but with a scarf in the face, and carry canes and wooden shovels.
And then the joke begins! The costumed ones go out in parades through the streets provoking the people and valley (almost !!) everything: hugs, grips, bengaladas and tapas in the butt. Women tease men and vice versa. Cars and floats adorned as if they had left the harvest complement the festive scene, which groups of Busós also receive from other countries.
In the street closed to the square of Mohács the fair with handmade products and food rolls during all the days. And there we tasted the lango, a kind of pizza with dough with cheese and tomato sauce, and also the local wine. Approved!
The party follows for the six days with programming of typical dances in the armed stage in the square, music, food and much joy. But it is on the last day of Busójárás that the celebration is great.
Ending the winter with fire
On the last day, a coffin representing the winter is built and brought in a parade to the main square of Mohács, where a huge bonfire is set.
Participants are already standing around the campfire, waiting for the Busós to place the coffin on a pedestal. After a ritual, the “animals” set fire to the dry sticks and wood. It’s the symbolism of a very rude good-bye to the cold.
The coffin soon disappears between the fire and the campfire is reduced to ashes. The Busójárás is over, now only at the next winter’s end. Welcome spring! 😉
The Busójárás is recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 2009. A “Viva” to the traditions that stand firm and strong throughout the world!
On the way back to Budapest, we made a stop for hiking in Pécs, but before we had a rather unusual story at the Mohács train station. See here this story, the beautiful city of Pécs and its patrimony of mankind hidden.