Congratulations, my friend, you have just been invited for dinner to a Hungarian family. Let me give you some life saving advice to make sure the night will be one of those nights you will never forget.
1. Expect the whole family to be present. If it’s a proper celebration, the niece of the second cousin of the grandma will be surely invited as well. They’ll all greet you with a warm hug or two kisses on the cheek.
2. People will shout at you in Hungarian. Not because they’re rude or angry with you, on the contrary, they’re trying to have a conversation with you. Unfortunately we are on the first place of the “Countries with the least foreign language speakers” list, so they’ll assume that the louder they speak the more likely is that you’ll understand them. Just nod and smile while someone comes to help you out by demolishing the language barrier.
4. If they offer you a shot of their national drink pálinka, you have to drink it. This is basically the case for any kind of alcohol served at a dinner party. Hungarians like to drink and like to share their alcohol. Don’t forget the magic word: Egészségedre!
5. Never clink with beer! This tradition is based on an old story related to the revolution in 1848 when – after defeating the Hungarians – the Austrians celebrated by toasting with beer glasses. But if you toast with anything else, remember one thing: EYE CONTACT. Always look in the eyes of the person you’re saying cheers to.
6. If you’re lucky, you’ll hear some interesting stories from the elderly people about the World Wars and communism and ‘those good ol’ days’. Getting a glimpse of what life was like a few decades ago is interesting, especially when every story sounds like an old mystery story with spies, soldiers and lots of action.
Hungarians might seem loud and a bit too welcoming, but they’re definitely good-willed and will do everything to make you feel comfortable. Be prepared to overeat yourself with the delicious foods that are served, but apart from the extra weight, you will only gain good memories from the occasion.