Ambrosia apples

Around the World – Hungary

apple pieThis installment of Around the World with Ambrosia Apples takes us to Hungary. Although Ambrosia apples are not currently grown there, based on a comparison of 161 countries in 2019, Hungary ranked the highest in apple consumption per capita (on the other end of the scale was Ethiopia). They do, however, eat Ambrosia apples, with most of them exported from Chile and New Zealand. 

The Hungarians’ love of the apple – or alma –  goes back to pagan times, and a Slavic holiday every August has been celebrated since then. The Saviour of the Apple Feast Day is timed to herald the transfiguration of nature and beginning of the harvest of all fruits and vegetables, especially apples. 

Sacrifices and blessings were made to pagan gods, but with the coming of Christianity, the holiday became associated with the Transfiguration of Christ. Today, processions and celebrations throughout Hungary, and the entire Slavic region, are enjoyed by everyone even if they are not Orthodox Christians. 

The primary and withstanding tradition of the Feast Day is to present apples to each other as gifts and to cook traditional dishes and pies with apples. Hungarian apple pie is quite different from the round pies we are used to. It is commonly made with grated apples and in a sheet pan. 

The Hungarians also have several Christmas traditions involving apples, as the apple symbolises unity and good health. At Christmas dinner, the head of the family cuts an apple into as many slices as diners, and each person eats their slice, a ritualistic way to “bring the family together.” The shape of an apple is also symbolic of the roundness of the upcoming year.

We’ll leave you with this Hungarian proverb: “Adam ate the apple, and our teeth still ache.”

And for those musically inclined, a Hungarian folk song that can be sung as a four part round: 

Apple Trees in Bloom

Underneath the rising moon,
Silver mist is dancing,
Soft the lilacs sweet perfume,
Fills the night entrancing.
White and ghostly in the gloom,
Stands the apple trees in bloom,
Apple trees in bloom,
Apple trees in bloom!

Sweet the evening air of May,
Soft my cheek caressing,
Sweet the unseen lilacs spray,
With its scented blessing.
White and ghostly in the gloom,
Shines the apple trees in bloom,
Apple trees in bloom,
Apple trees in bloom!

Élvezze finom Ambrosia almáját! (translation: Enjoy your delicious Ambrosia apples!)