A few weekends again, I was invited to go with one of my friends and her family to Mohács for a festival. I had no idea what I was in for, but when I heard “a very Hungarian tradition” and “It will be fun!” I automatically committed.
I did a little research before I went, and I found that this festival is meant to “scare winter away” (which made sense of the slightly frightening costumes people were going to be wearing). This Busójárás festival in Mohács is the most famous festival in Hungary, gathering people together from many countries. A theory of why this small town dresses up like this every year is that the people of village dressed up in wild costumes to scare the Turkish away when they tried invading their land. I also found that these Busó (those in costumes) tend to seek out young women in the crowds to rub feathers on their heads or smear black coal on their faces (NO THANK YOU).
Sunday rolled around and I was a little nervous of getting attacked by the Busó, but I hopped in the car for our three hour car ride there. When we got there, I was surprised by how many people were meandering throughout the small town! Roads were blocked off, and parking was crazy. After we found a parking spot, we weaved our way through the crowd, seeing flashes of at least 100 vendors and their stands selling souvenirs. As we got closer to the main road where the parades were happening, we started hearing loud clanging noises. My friend’s brother said, “Oh, I love that sound… At least, you know the Busó are coming.” That’s when I realized the reason for the noise, attached to the waist of all Busó are rusted metal cowbells that clang together when they walk. On top of that noise is the sound of wooden noise makers they swing around when they walk. You can say you can hear a Busó coming from quite a distance away…
We took our places for one of the parades, and my friend’s brother told me this year there were 1,400 Busó at this festival (kinda hard to keep your distance, huh? 😉). We watched as about 50 walked by, every Busó looking slightly different from the next. I ran up to talk a picture of the group walking towards us, and one of the Busó walked right into me (in which I froze, while taking the picture- but hey, at least I got a nice detailed pic!). I was terrified something would happen next, but he kept walking. I honestly think it was because he couldn’t see me because his mask only allows him to look straight ahead.
Next, we went to the town square to watch some traditional dancing on the big stage. We stayed to see Hungarian and Serbian dancing groups before we went to the next parade. I was told more countries danced for the crowd, though!
While walking to another parade on a side road, a Busó started running down the street towards Eszter and I. I thought, “If I remain calm, cool, and collected, he’ll run past me and toward Eszter who is screaming/running away in fear…” Sadly, my tactic didn’t work. He stopped running when he reached me, put his furry arm around me, pulled me into his chest, and gave me a nougie (THANKFULLY, with no feathers to get stuck in my hair). I stood there and took it, tried walking away when he was finished, and then he pulled me in for another one… I have to admit, I was ecstatic when it was over. Good news though, I wasn’t as frightened of the Busó afterwards because I survived that incident.
After watching some parades and sipping on mulled wine, Eszter and I each got masks traditionally wore by the women accompanying the Busó. We wore them to dinner at a restaurant on the Danube River. Then, we headed back to the town square where there was a HUGE bonfire, and we joined a big group of people dancing near to it.
After a long day of “scaring winter away”, we headed home. I’m really happy I went.