Midwinter and other Endings of the Year

The Jump over the Fire

I already had a small end-of-the-year round with my Baranta group on Wednesday, during the last training of the year. With the weekend the Christmas celebrations with the Horseback Archery group and the “normal” archers followed.

Because the Horseback Archers lead their culture back to times before Christianity had spread in Hungary, they also put higher importance on pagan holidays outside of the Christian ones - even though the Midwinter Bonfires seem to be quite common in Hungary in general, at least a lot more common than in Germany, from what I can say.

And thus we meet in the house of one of the clan members after the training, who kills animals himself and produces sausages, bacon and ham out of them, to celebrate the winter solstice there - one day late but still dedicated to it.

Behind the house and his vineyard next to it we make a small bonfire and light it up as the sun sets, while reciting good wishes for the upcoming year and sining Hungarian Folk songs. A bottle of Palinka makes its rounds, too, to toast on these good wishes and hopes.

After the fire has burned down for the most part, we all jump over the flames to cleanse us of the old year and start into the new one with new fire in our veins.

Pig knuckle and kettle gulyás

Of course we didn’t meet just to jump over the fire, but to celebrate the end of the year togehter, too.

For the whole afternoon - our host left training a little bit early to prepare everything - a fat pig knuckle is cooking in his stone stove, and while we are waiting for the food to be finished, he offers us his sausage, bacon and ham to try. With the pig knuckle we eat, for Hungary very common, pickled cucumber and paprika together with bread and a very tasty wild garlic sauce.

After dinner we sit together until late in the evening, talking about everything and nothing. Among other things our clan leader Bálint asks me why I decided to join the Horseback Archery and what I hope to accomplish there and take with me when I leave Hungary again at the end of July.

But this evening, too, ends sometime and Sebastian and I drive back to Vereb to be at least mostly well rested for the archery on the next day.

Because with the archery we will have a small Christmas celebration, too. For this we cook gulyás during the training - in a kettle over the open fire, like it should. There aren’t as many people as we hoped would come, probably because most of the archers are a little younger and their families had different plans for the day.

The joined gulyás eating with tea and cake as dessert is still a lot of fun.

And in the end of the day the Christmas feeling has settled in my mind, too.

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