It’s been a miserable beginning to March. Snow and clouds for about six days now, which has everyone’s mood in the pits. But it’s Friday and the sun has just popped one eye open and it seems, at least for the moment, like the weekend and Carnival celebrations will be in full swing.
On Sunday, we’re going to Mohács, a little town in SW Hungary. It will be the place to be this weekend, as people celebrate the Busójárás. The tradition probably dates back to the Turkish occupation of Hungary. The local legend is that the people from Mohács had to flee the town to avoid the terrible Ottoman Turks. And one night at the end of winter, a Šokci man suddenly appeared at their campfire. Šokci are ethnic southern slavs/Croats. So the man told them that they shouldn’t be afraid to return to their homes. That they should prepare weapons because a masked knight would arrive and lead them to scare away the Turks. A few nights later the knight arrived, dressed in a terrifying mask. The people put on their own masks and picked up their weapons. They charged into the city and the Turks thought that they were being attacked by demons. They were so terrified, in fact, that they fled the city immediately.
The story has pre-Christian roots as well, and suggests that the people dressed up as Busós to scare away the winter. Sunday marks the largest celebration. Busós and Busó teams from Hungary and Croatia will be dressed in the sheepskin/straw/mask attire and parade through the city. And at sunset, a giant bonfire is lit and a stuffed straw figure (that represents Winter) will be burned. It’s been a tough winter, so I’m especially looking forward to see it ablaze.