Ever wondered what Sárospatak castle looks like by torchlight? Or been curious about how Hostia communion bread is made? Perhaps you have always wanted to jump a fire? Well, you can – if you visit the castles, museums, galleries and synagogues of the Tokaj wine region for Night of the Museums (Múzeumok éjszakája) on 20th June. On this night close to St John’s eve (Szentiván-éj) and midsummer the stunning buildings open to give visitors an unusual experience as they explore the space in the dark, perhaps with torchlight. And I love it!
Lighting bonfires to dispel the darkness and protect against evil spirits thought to be roaming as the sun turned southward on the longest day of the year was customary in many European countries, and Hungary was no exception. The tradition lives on to this day and, after the high flames of the cleansing fire have died down, it is time to jump the fire for purification. Want to test your bravery? Then head to Tokaj, Sárospatak or Széphalom.
The Vizsolyi bible, printed 425 years ago, is the oldest surviving Hungarian translation. On display in Sátoraljaújhely with talks on both the translation and nascent printing technology. An alternative side of literature, fairy tales and puppetry form the mainstay of Sárospatak Castle’s programme. The synagogue in Mád will show film of synagogues around Hungary. Interested in herbs? Well, traditionally, women collect various plants at this mystical turning point in the year, as they were believed to be most potent, so the herbal tea tasting in St Elisabeth House, Sárospatak, is particularly apt. Prefer dance? Folk dance (with instructions in the castle garden from 11.10 pm).
This year venues are:
– the synagogue in Mád,
– the Castle, Gallery and St Elisabeth House in Sárospatak,
– Kazinczy Ferenc Museum in Sátoraljaújhely,
– the Museum of Hungarian language in Széphalom,
– the wine and cheese tasting in the garden of Tokaj Museum.