Hungarian Heritage

Family and Kinship

Children’s Games

Children in rural Hungarian villages once played simple games that seem far removed from our twenty-first century video games. Today, some people promote the restoration and revitalization of these older games. They point out that children’s games can be more than play: they stress the development of a strong work ethic, the acquisition of community customs, and the integration of children into society. Play that imitates the everyday routines of adults may help prepare children for adulthood in significant ways.

For instance, group games, which are often based on complicated sets of rules, teach children about communal behavior, teamwork, consideration of others, and discipline. By singing, dancing, and imitating forms of village entertainment (such as weddings and dance houses), children practice concepts of community belonging and learn about gender roles. By making toys from simple household objects, they exercise independence and creativity.

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Children play on the streets of Nyárszó, Transylvania (Romania). Photo by Ágnes Fülemile, Balassi Institute/Hungarian Cultural Center

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Two children pose with a toy wooden scythe in Kalotaszeg, Transylvania (Romania). Photo by Ágnes Fülemile, Balassi Institute/Hungarian Cultural Center