Hungarian folk culture is extremely complex and embraces numerous traditions and customs, thus it can be approached from several different aspects. Due to its complexity, I wish to introduce its diversity by elaborating on its three main parts.
Both the scientific and the standard language interpret the term Hungarian national costume as the clothing customs of the rural society. Yet, national costume means much more than a collection of serviceable and aesthetic apparels. Cloths tell the wearer’s life story for the competent experts in different ways as a characteristic of the particular geographical region. Bonnets, kerchiefs, colours indicate whether the wearer is married, unmarried, a widow or how many children she has. The colour and the style unambiguously tell the wearer’s age, religious customs and even the occupation in case of men (the distinguished, special garments of shepherds, horse-herders, swineherds), but people wore different clothes on weekdays and holidays, at the church building and in balls, at Easter and Christmas or during the time of engagement and mourning.
It is impossible to tell its miraculous diversity in words. It is impossible to express in clichés the fantasy, the ideas and refinement which are reflected in the cutting, trimmings of the clothes and in the variety of accessories like ribbons, pearls, laces and extremely detailed embroidery.
Hungarian folk dance is one of the most precious treasures of our national pride. The origin of our folk dances dates back to ancient times when dance was an integral part of rites. The distinguished, abrupt forms of motions, the powerful male dances and the outstanding feature that Hungarian dance is dominated by the male dances indicate that the early Hungarian dances were war dances. The shape of the playful dances, which are/were practiced mainly in circles, also supports this hypothesis. It can be explained by the fact that there might have been fire in the middle of the dance circle. The memory of the warlike past is also preserved by the living stick dance, which is famous for its diverse and exists in so many a form that it is almost impossible to systematise them. The art of the dance was inherited from generation to generation and its preservation depended on the descendants’ skills. Had the talent not been hereditary, our dance repertoire might have been completely disappeared. Due to its manners, forms and unique impulses, Hungarian dance one of the most outstanding dances of the world. While dancing, Hungarian people are unaware of their environment. Their face, posture and basically their whole body is mesmerized by the dance. One of the typical features of Hungarian dance is its consistency. The traditional dances follow each other in a rational order. Besides, some regional dances are also influenced by the dance of surrounding nations.
Hungarian folk music is a prominent part of the Hungarian traditions. It is famous for its diversity, the number of the well-known Hungarian folk songs is close to 100 000. As Kodály Zoltán stated, the Hungarian folk song is the mirror of the Hungarian soul and emerged with the Hungarian language. The tradition of the folk music, which evolved in the history of the nation and improved during hundreds and thousands of years, is as valuable and precious as our native tongue. It reflects our identity and allows nations to have an insight into Hungarian culture. The folk music embraces tunes which were sung by a huge number of people for a long time. Hungarian folk music is still present in our life, mainly due to the fact that it is considerably different from the music of the Indo-European folk cultures. In addition, with the help of the language, the art of dance, the religion, different tales and manners it was preserved in our identity and still exists as an integral part of our culture.
Our folk music was closely related to the life of our nation. We could not have been able to get to know the past of our ancestors without revealing the nature of our folk music. The Hungarian folk songs are typically varied, what is more, they have the most diversified system in the world. Tradition preserves particular tunes in several forms and with various lyrics. Our folk songs reflect the customs, the belief system, the emotions, the pleasures and the regrets of the ancient rural world. Nowadays, numerous Hungarian bands make their repertoire colourful and diversified with folk music motifs, which popularizes Hungarian folk music.