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BALAJCZA recommends: interview with Timea Balajcza for the article “Tradition that unites”

As in previous years, in December 2019, the Wacław Felczak Polish-Hungarian Cooperation Institute requested an interview with Timea Balajcza, Managing Director of BALAJCZA Linguistic Services. This time the topic of the article was – “Tradition that unites.”

“From the moment when the Advent wreath is hidden, with the last of the four candles having died out, and when the house will resonate with the merry voices of children unwrapping their gifts, the Hungarians and the Poles will sit down to a very special meal – the Christmas Eve dinner, with which they will begin their celebration of Christmas on the 24th of December. When it comes to Christmas festivities, there is a lot that we have in common, mostly the gratitude and joy, at the coming of the Christ. But also the focus on building ties and relations with our loved ones, which is especially strong during this time. There are also differences due to the varying traditions present in our countries, further reinforced by customs developed in individual homes.

The Christmas tree tradition, originating in 16th century Alsace, made its way into Polish homes between the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, and to Hungary, in the middle of the 19th century. Once, only reserved for the wealthy ­– today, large or small, it stands in almost every home. Earlier, in accordance with both Polish and Hungarian tradition, the tree was decorated on Christmas Eve, but in Poland this tradition has largely disappeared over recent decades. Today, Christmas trees are bought and decorated at least a few days before Christmas Eve. The Hungarians have stayed true to the old custom.

Timea Balajcza, director of a linguistic firm and resident of Warsaw for the last twenty years, says that on December 24th, on the streets of her home town – Budapest, you can see many elderly people walking with their grandchildren. They often take them to church to see a nativity play known as Betlehem. During that time, their parents and other adults who have stayed at home, bring in the Christmas tree and decorate it. When the children return, they are greeted by the tinkling of a bell which is the sign that the house had just been visited by Baby Jesus, who brought gifts, and the sight of the decorated Christmas tree, with presents underneath. Timea emphasises that it is an exceptionally beautiful tradition, cherished by both children and adults alike. After moving to Poland and the birth of her two daughters, she cultivated if for a few years, but finally the impossibility of buying a nice and fresh Christmas tree on December 24th, has forced her to abandon this custom”.

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Wacław Felczak Polish-Hungarian Cooperation Institute is an organization whose aims and tasks include in particular:

  • cultivation of Polish-Hungarian traditions and heritage as well as their advancement in public and international life;
  • promoting language acquisition, culture and Polish-Hungarian youth cooperation;
  • development of scientific, educational, cultural, economic and sports cooperation;
  • initiation and support of initiatives and projects aimed at increasing the familiarity between the two nations;
  • support of activities to improve the innovativeness and competitiveness of Poland and Hungary.