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Culture & Identity of Hungary

Introduction

Hungary is an ever changing country and this is true in their way of life. The country is rapidly changing from their communist past to the present, in which the Hungarians are in favor of an open market economy filled with opportunities. However, there are also numerous similarities as much of the country is urbanized (nearly 70%) and so much of the country is based in Budapest, which leads so much of the culture, including the daily way of life to a great degree.

As the economy is changing, there are more jobs opening in the services sector, but some people still make a living on agriculture (about 10%) and nearly a third of the people work in heavy industry, a result from the communist efforts to industrialize the country. Each of these sectors offers a different daily life as agriculture requires long summer hours, many industry jobs have various shifts, and the services industries are slowly shifting to more entertainment-based jobs, giving these people irregular working hours. More shops are also now open on weekends, a rarity in the past, leading to more jobs with irregular hours.

Despite the differences, most people work regular hours in Hungary, with the work day generally beginning at about 7:00 or 8:00 am and lasting until about 5:00 or 6:00 pm. Like these regular hours, schools also have consistent hours. School runs from September to late June and the day runs from about 8:00 am to about 1:00 to 3:00 pm.

In many places, and traditionally, evenings and weekends were a time to spend with family, but this is slowly changing, particularly since wages are increasing so people have more discretionary income, and because many young people are moving to Budapest and other cities for a university education or jobs. Despite the changes, for many people evenings and weekends are still primarily spent with family in the home. For the many young singles in the country evenings and weekends are more commonly spent with friends as entertainment options are plentiful. Many people also enjoy getting out on weekends or during the long August break, particularly to Lake Balaton or abroad.

Identity

Hungarians identify as Magyars and, if mistakenly called a Hungarian by a visitor, may quietly and politely correct you in an educational way in order to share more about themselves and their culture. Being called Hungarian doesn't offend the people, but the people seem very in touch with both the present and the past and this past is deeply rooted in Asia as Magyar people. Hungarian is an English term often used to define the country, ethnicity, language, food, and everything else, but the term Magyar is more correct when describing the people. The Magyar identity is primarily based on the people's ethnicity, but is also defined by their language, history, culture, and food. Most Magyars include any ethnic Magyar outside of Hungary (for example in Romania) to also be a part of this identity.

This page was last updated: November, 2013