Part of what I loved most about this most recent trip to Europe was searching for the most authentic Christmas traditions. In Budapest, I discovered Santa Claus doesn't visit Hungarian children (and others in Europe) on Christmas Day. St. Nicholas Day is December 6th and that's when he visits. I wrote more about it for National Geographic and some of the sweet treats and shopping I discovered.
"In Budapest, I’m suddenly reminded of the toast my mom used to make when I was little — crunchy and buttery, and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.
Though the taste is familiar, this is a souped-up version of the childhood treat: a giant, hollowed-out cylinder of dough almost as tall as the boots I’m wearing — the consistency of which is somewhere between a doughnut and a churro. I can’t pronounce the Hungarian word for them, Kürtőskalács, but these pastries are also known as “chimney cakes,” a fitting name, I think to myself, as Christmastime approaches."
Read more here: In Search of St. Nick at the Budapest Christmas Market