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Buso Winter Carnival
From: 2014.02.16 To: 2014.02.21
This is not yet another pre-lent Carnival celebration, rather its roots are said to be in ancient Slavic pagan celebrations of the arrival of spring and Mohács is the only place in Hungary where it is celebrated. Busójárás begins when bands of children known as "jankele" begin roaming the street dressed in rags and wearing stocking masks over their faces. They carry stockings filled with sawdust and carry bags of flour, both of which are used to attack any woman or young girl who cannot outrun them! As with many Busójárás traditions, this has its roots in ancient fertility rites. The main attractions are the Busós: men dressed in sheepskin costumes and frightening horned wooden masks. The costume consists of black boots, off-white pantaloons, the large sheepskin jacket or vest, and the mask, which is attached to a sheepskin hood so that the whole head is covered. They usually carry large wooden noisemakers or cowbells, and make quite a racket. The Busó masks are works of art, hand carved and painted, each with a unique expression, topped with impressive-looking rams' horns. At around noon, all the Busós make their way to the opposite bank of the Danube, known for some reason as the Mohács Island. This is where the Hungarian legend comes in: it is said that after the defeat of the Hungarian army, many soldiers and residents of Mohács fled to the "island" to escape the Turks. After some time, they decided to attack and drive the invaders from their home. The men put on big coats made of furry sheepskin and horned wooden masks painted with blood, and stole across the Danube by night to surprise the Turks, who of course panicked and fled as soon as they saw these "devils" approaching. Therefore, every year the Busós cross the Danube in rowboats in honour of this legend. After the crossing, there is a Busó parade through town to the main square, which is usually an unruly affair. The Busó, along with the jankele, chase and harass women, but all in a spirit of good fun. The celebrations wind down at nightfall, with a huge bonfire in the main square. While Sunday's events attract ever-increasing numbers of tourists, the smaller celebrations on Tuesday are more for the locals. There is another Busó parade in the afternoon and a gathering in the main square for a final bonfire to close out the festival. A "coffin" containing a Busó costume is set on the fire and burned, symbolizing the "burning" of winter and the welcoming of spring.