Santa Claus Only Brings One Kind Of Cabbage

Life is full of mysteries.  Life as an American in Hungary is full of even more mysteries.  It's what keeps me excited to get out of bed every morning.

Today was Mikulás Nap (Santa Claus Day) in Hungary.  All of the good little boys and girls had to clean their shoes and leave them on the windowsill.  Then Mikulás came and put chocolate and other gifts into them.

By high school, the kids stop doing this.  I suppose they don't believe in Mikulás.  Ridiculous.  Do they really think parents could put candy in that many shoes on one night?  These non-believers just exchange gifts with each other in school.  I saw all kinds of things being passed around the halls today.  Were their shoes clean?  No.  I wasn't impressed.  Obviously Mikulás wasn't either, so they had to give gifts to each other.

Some gifts were even given to me!  Obviously I have clean shoes, I'm very responsible.  I had a break in the middle of the day, and I left the school.  When I came back, there was a little chocolate Santa on my desk in the teachers room.  I would like to thank whoever gave the gift, but I don't know who it was.  Mikulás or one of the other teachers?  Hard to tell.

Also, I entered one of my classrooms and there was a chocolate on my desk in there.  The students informed me that it was a gift for me, but they are all very shy and no one would admit to being the one who gave it.  Do I eat it?  We'll see, I was a student once, so I know what can happen...

This evening, I went to a restaurant with my parents.  They want to eat out a lot since they are on vacation, but we've run out of restaurants to try.  The waiter at this particular place remembered us from a previous visit and was very friendly.

As a matter of fact, he was so friendly that he advised my mother what she should eat.  She ordered stuffed cabbage and a mixed salad (that also contained cabbage).  He wrote it down, thought about it for a second, then explained it was impossible.

This is where it became a mystery.  He spoke fairly good English, but he seemed to be stumped at this point.  His explanation went something like this:

"You cannot have this.  The mixed salad contains cabbage and it is cold.  I can show you.  It is in the refrigerator and it is cold.  I would have to bring it to you and it would be cold now.  You cannot have this.  You must have the stuffed cabbage but not the mixed salad."

Um, ok.  Wait, what?  This was a language barrier situation.  He obviously had a point to make, but he didn't know how to explain it in English.

No matter what the reason was, she wasn't getting the mixed salad.  I think he was Mikulás and her shoes weren't clean enough.

Hungarian word of the day:

Mikulás

Pronounced Meek-you-losh.  It means Santa Claus or St. Nicholas.  If you didn't wake up with chocolate in your shoes today, it's because you didn't clean them enough.  Shame on you.