Busójárás – Another Carnival

Since the New Haven Free Public Library will be honoring one of the many carnival traditions by hosting a Mardi Gras fundraiser on Tuesday, I felt it appropriate to celebrate the same holiday but with traditions from a different country.

Busójárás (non-technical pronunciation: boo*show*yar*ash. Meaning: Busó Walking) is part of the Hungarian Carnival, Farsang, that, like Mardi Gras, coincides with the week of the seventh Sunday before Easter, but exclusively celebrated in the town of Mohács (Moe*hach).

There are two legends about the origins of the festival:

1. During the expansion of the Ottoman Empire, the people of Mohács hid in the swamps and woods surrounding the town to avoid slaughter.  One night, an old man appeared out  to the refugees.  He instructed them that on the night of the next storm a knight will arrive and that he would lead the people to reclaim their town.  He told them to dress in animal skins and wear wooden masks.  The knight arrived as foretold, and the costumed refugees raided the village, making as much noise as possible.  The Turks were so frightened by the masked men and noises, thinking they were evil spirits, they fled Mohács before sunrise.  The town reenacts the reclaiming of Mohács every year.

2. The less popular legend is that the Busó chase away the winter.

I participated in Busójárás last year, and am making the Institute Library participate this year.  I have my authentic Busó mask and am encouraging patrons to let me take their photo whilst we scare away winter and the Turks of a fallen Ottoman Empire.

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