Hungarian Heritage

Family and Kinship

Courtship and Marriage

In traditional Hungarian culture, both men and women achieve their full social rank through marriage. This is perhaps why the wedding is the most elaborately celebrated life-cycle event, representing the continuity from past to present of many traditional customs.

Engaged Hungarian couples wear their rings on the left hand; once they are married, they switch the ring to the right hand. In a traditional wedding, brides wear colorful and elaborately embroidered dresses and decorated headdresses, which may include woven wheat to symbolize fertility. The traditional wedding dress is the most elaborate variant of the colorful local festive costume. The bridal color of green is preserved in the traditional dress of Szék (Transylvania [Romania]), where a complex series of traditional wedding events occurs over three days.

A number of old village customs are continued in contemporary urban weddings. For example, some brides will emerge from their weddings with a kerchief on their heads to signify their transformation as new women, and they will dance with guests in exchange for wedding money—the first “collective wealth” of the newlywed couple.

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A newly engaged couple poses proudly at a harvest festival in Kalotaszeg, 2006. Photo by Ágnes Fülemile, Balassi Institute/Hungarian Cultural Center