In Southern Hungary, about 3 hours away from Budapest, is the town of Mohács. Every year during Carnival there is an annual celebration held by the Šokci people. It lasts 6 days ending the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and it’s called Busojaras, meaning Busós walking. The Busós are the men in the outfits. Watch a quick recap here!
If I’m being honest, I’m not sure how I first heard of Busojaras, but as soon as I did I knew it was something I wanted to experience first hand. The only Carnival experiences I had heard before this were the celebrations in the Caribbean, Brazil, and New Orleans.
2024 Dates: February 8-13.
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History of Busojaras
There are two legends that led to the Busós dressing the way they do for this celebration.
The first says that during the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century, the Šokci fled towards nearby swamps to avoid the troops. Legend says a man who dressed like a Busó appeared. He told the Šokci to dress as scary as possible and make rattling and clattering objects to scare away the Turks.
The Šokci made wooden masks and wooly cloaks made of sheepskin. Without many options for loud objects, they grabbed sticks, rocks, and anything else that they could. They crossed the river at night and chased the Ottomans away.
There’s nothing proving this actually happened, but the legend of the Busós is very popular amongst the townspeople.
The second legend says that the Busojaras are scaring away winter known as the “Poklade” and welcoming spring. This is why there’s a huge bonfire in the center of the town. An empty casket and a man-made out of straw that represent winter are burned.
During the festivities, the villagers are all dressed up as fearsome monsters. The men are dressed as Busós, the women as Busós or as female Ottoman Turks, and the children as Janke. They all wander the streets making noise with cowbells and wooden noisemakers.
It’s all centered around food, music, and fun. Now the Busós like pranking bystanders either by chasing them for a minute or frightening them with their wooden noisemakers.
How to Celebrate Busojaras
You can go for one day or for the whole week. I only had the chance to go on the last day, Tuesday. Regardless of which day you go you can expect lots of music, dancing, spaced wine, greasy food, homemade palinka, masks, costumes, and traditional food like spicy sausages, lángos and chimney cakes.
You can go dressed up with a mask or buy one there. Either way, expect to participate to really enjoy the experience!
Guided Day Trip to Mohács for the Busojaras
If this event has peaked your interest, but you’re not trying to figure it out on your own then join a planned guided trip! This trip is 10 hours long so make sure you have the whole day available. Due to traveling in a private vehicle, it won’t take as long as going by public transportation which is convenient. Pick up is provided and so is an English speaking guide. Grab your spot today so you don’t miss it!
Getting to Mohács from Budapest
Mohács isn’t located in the most convenient place to get to. But for the Busojaras I think it’s worth it to make the trip. If you’re looking to make the trip on your own, this is the best way to do it.
The most direct way is taking the 1131 bus from the Kelenfold station to Mohács. The trip takes just under 3 hours with under 10 stops. Save 5% by purchasing your tickets online. Price is 3520 HUF (9,31€) each way so about 18,62€ round trip.
The second option is a train and bus combo. Again you’ll start the journey at the Kelenfold station. From there, you’ll take the IC 812 in the direction of Pecs to Sarbogard and then switch to the 8304 Gemenc in the direction of Baja to Decs. Purchase your train tickets online. After the two trains you’ll switch to the 5411 bus heading to Mohacs.
Overall, this has been one of the most unique experiences I’ve ever seen firsthand. If I’m able to go back I definitely would. Would you visit during this time of the year?
Make sure to visit other parts of Hungary during your visit. If you’re landing into Budapest airport, use these tips to get into the city from the airport. There are lots of Budapest day trip options, make the most of your time!
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