Hungary

Busójárás Festival

 

 

 

 

 

Legend has it that theBusójárás Festival commemorates the successful expulsion of the Turks during the Ottoman Empire by the people of the town of Mohács.  After fleeing and hiding in nearby swamps, a group of people wearing scary masks returned to the town and frightened away the Turks, who thought they were demons.  Today the festival is held to scare winter away and welcome the arrival of spring.

 

The festival takes place every year in late February for six days, ending on Shrove Tuesday.  The focus is the busós, local men wearing traditional sheepskin cloaks, women’s wool stockings under men’s pants, and carved monster masks. The mask is not intended to alter a man’s outer appearance, rather it is to change the person behind the mask, hence each mask is specifically designed for each busó.  The stockings historically represent the duality of male and female.

 

The festival begins on Farsang Sunday, when more than 500busós arrive on the Danube in rowboats to participate in a march throughout the town beside horse-drawn or motorized fantasy vehicles.  On Tuesday, a large bonfire is lit in the main square where a man made of straw is burned, surrounded by the townspeople holding hands and dancing the kolo in a circle around the fire.  During the festival there are many musical performances, costumed folk dancing, parades, a children’s costume contest, feasts, a display of the art of the mask carvers, and much levity and celebration, fueled by massive amounts of alcohol.  Visitors are advised that it is difficult to watch the festivities without being drawn in; spectators may have flour thrown on them or offered drinks.  The festival is held in such regard that it has been added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

 

 

 

 





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