Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Not the partridge, but the falcon: a little Hungarian Christmas history

On this Christmas Eve 100 Years in America wishes you Boldog Karácsonyt! The Hungarian word for Christmas, Karácsony, has an interesting origin. According to Charles Dombi, webmaster of, the story goes like this:
"The origin and meaning of the Hungarian word for Christmas, Karácsony, has its roots in ancient pre-Christian (pagan) culture and religious beliefs. It is associated with the most important celebration of pagan peoples, that of the winter solstice. It was an ancient Hungarian custom to celebrate the event with the releasing of falcons which were called 'kerecsen solyom' - 'solyom' means falcon, and 'kerecsen' refers to the type of falcon. Since ancient times, birds of prey have had special symbolic significance, and in the ancient Near Eastern civilizations, the falcon was associated with the sun or the sun-god. This tradition has been preserved by the ancient Magyars (Hungarians) and their ethno-linguistic relatives. The Hungarian word for Christmas, 'Karácsony' is therefore derived from the word 'kerecsen'."
For more on the origin of the word for Christmas in the Hungarian language, see the Hungarian article on the web entitled Karácsony szavunk eredetéről és jelentéséről.

Here's wishing you all a Boldog Karácsonyt, a very Merry Christmas!


  1. Lisa, this is a very interesting posting about my language! I had no idea, thank you.
    Boldog Karacsonyt!

  2. I used to work with a Hungarian lady and she told me this "Kellemes karácsonyi"meant Merry Christmas and" Boldog újévet!" was Happy New Year. Is this a different way of saying it?

  3. I'll need an expert Hungarian speaker to help us with this question. I'll see if I can find out. If anyone else has the answer, please share your knowledge.


  4. Yes it is a different way.....

    Althrough the connection between the ancient subareans, mitannians, hurreans and the modern hungarians is very interesting.
    The word magyar is a variation of the hungarian word madár=bird. The name of the mitannians also mada.


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