Pumpkins and paradise

A palace of pumpkins joined the golden tradition of Hungarian architecture on Saturday night when hundreds of cheerful children brought their hand carved creations to Hero’s Square. Overseen by the Angel Gabriel (of course!) hovering atop the column of the 7 Magyar Chieftains, this normally formal space was transformed by winking, toothless pumpkins flickering around the feet of the founders. When space ran out pumpkins posed on the floor – or in a lap. It didn’t matter – this was Halloween Hungarian style. Faces were painted here and there, but it was the homemade rather than the bought variety. The invitation set the pace –  bring only a pumpkin, and three cans of non perishable food, the first to take home at the end of the night, the second to leave behind for organised sharing. There were no podiums, no police, no cordons. In fact if it wasn’t for a scary pumpkin lighting the way, the approach from the darkness of Andrassy Avenue could have fooled us into thinking it was all trick, no treat.

No treat?! Life is too short, as anyone would have agreed at Kerepesi Cemetery the following day. The celebration of life for all Saints and all Souls brought families armed with flowers and rakes and watering cans. What was already a magnificently groomed park with autumn leaves to colour and to crunch, became a garden of ethereal conversations. Like Pere Lachaise or La Recoleta, there were statues of weeping angels, roaring lions standing over graves, and grande tombstones larger than life, protecting people who were no longer present to appreciate it. But there were also fresh ribbons flagged over crosses marked from the 1956 revolution, and butterflies dancing around a nymph’s resting place. My favourite was the seat sitting opposite a headstone, so inviting I was tempted to stop for a chat. But the message of the day from Saint or Soul was channeled from a yet-to-be-occupied grave. To the left of a well kept path was an ornately floral remembrance, no doubt tended by the same person who would eventually move in next door. On a crisp autumn day in Budapest the time for talking was over, the pumpkins were done for another year, and it was time to get busy earning those wings…

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16 Responses to Pumpkins and paradise

  1. John Wills says:

    Fantastic Fitzy treats us again with word pictures and photography over the rainbow! (Mentioned again this morning on Rod Quinn’s ABC Overnights as sorely missed from the Big Apple) John Wills 155 Days to retirement!

    • Whoa! Only 155 days to go! But who’s counting? If they were New York minutes they’d be going even faster. Hmmmm, there’s an idea!

      • John Wills says:

        Trump time is temporary I hope!I read that “Cher The Musical”is happening in Chicago and then New York,so I can’t wait to ‘Turn back Time’with Michelle Obama as Madam President!

  2. Chrissy H says:

    G you certainly have shown the reality of Halloween, when not a crass grab for money by retailers & kids who don’t know the real meaning of the time of year! Great stuff!!

  3. Jane says:

    How wonderful!

  4. Merlaine Cee says:

    I so enjoyed your description of All Saints Celebrations in Budapest, it took me back to my travels there, thanks for sharing. Merlaine

  5. Merle B latch says:

    As usual your pictures and words take us to a different setting and observance of Halloween. Congratulations on a wonderful contribution.

  6. Ron Hammersly says:

    No end to your imagination, and ability. Well done.

    • Thank you Ron. I’m working on a story about the amazing locations we have been scouting here in Budapest and I am beside myself with the rich history that surrounds you at every turn – I just need to squeeze it into words. You have inspired me to persevere!

  7. Terry Lee says:

    A delight to read and view your photographs. I must confess the Halloween thing here I have generally viewed with mild disdain, not liking the financial impost placed on hard done by Parents and sensing that the occasion was an import from our Comrades in the United States. I’m a Guy Fawkes night fan, but sadly this event rarely occurs now. However, Gabrielle with your essay you have reminded us just how much genuine fun and cultural celebration Halloween can be without the rampant commercial side. I also appreciate the educational side of your post, especially the references that the occasion is a celebration of life, not the macabre manifestation that in some places it has become. Greetings again from the Mallee country, now readying for our grains harvest and the bake of our hot summer.

    • Thank you Terry – lovely to hear from you! Yes, I remember Guy Fawkes as a child on the farm and having to be careful with the rockets so we didn’t burn the place down. I don’t think I ever really knew anything about Halloween until we went to America. But now in Budapest it is an entire new story. Love this culture! Sean and I have just come from doing a scout at Kincsem Palace – an amazing place built in 1874 around the wealth from the race horse of the same name. It is in disrepair, but there are amazing features like original wallpaper – with the outline on the wall where the Soviets ripped off the Count’s coat of arms. Will post some pictures so you can see. There is just so much visible history here, and the movie industry is helping to keep it alive by using these places as locations. So we hope to contribute in a small way. Hope you are enjoying a good coffee on the train trail and all is well in Mallee country.

  8. Marie Spicer says:

    Over the years I have heard your report on and off on Rod’s show, and try as I may, it is hard to stay awake until you came on, sometimes I was lucky and woke up just in time to enjoy your wonderful tales of NY. Are the back reports available to read? I am interested in Budapest so I am looking forward to reading and listening to your blogs. I am only new to your blog. Marie Spicer Sydney NSW.

    • Thank you for trying to stay awake Marie! That is one of the reasons I started the blog, so that you could enjoy a good night’s sleep and still be able to read some news from abroad the following day. There are lots of back reports, just go to the ‘categories’ on the right hand side and click on whatever you are interested in – bakeries, coffee, markets etc. I am a bit slower with my reports from Budapest, but that is more to do with work commitments than things to do here. It is an amazing city! So please keep checking in and I’ll get busy writing…

  9. All that….and then you get to fall in love again! You are both deservedly ble’st.

  10. Lorna Wilbore says:

    You tell a wonderful story just through your photography. I loved the pumpkins. Such character seemed to have been carved into each pumpkin. Thanks so much for your most interesting stories.

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