While walking on the yellow carpet of fallen leaves and tasting the flavoury grapes of the autumn, what else can come to one’s mind than the vine-harvest? Although grape-stomping and tamping are hard work, the harvest itself was and is considered a feast. It is about celebrating the fruit of a whole year’s work, which can be consumed later on. The date of vine-harvest used to be attached to an illustrious day in the 18th and 19th centuries: from Michaelmas (29 September) to the day of Saint Simon the Zealot (28 October). In several regions of the Hungarian Great Plain, the vine-harvest started at Michaelmas. In the Transdanubian and Transylvanian regions, it started on the day of Teresa of Avila (15 October); in the regions of Lake Balaton and Kőszeg, on the day of Saint Ursula (21 October) and it used to begin on the day of Saint Simon (28 October) in the Tokaj-Hegyalja region.

The vine-harvest was a real festival in the life of a village. During the 20th century, it was held even in the settlements where grapevines were not cultivated. The harvest began with making noises. Grape-pickers infested the vineyards early in the morning and started working.

Szüret - Thorma János Múzeum, CC BY-NC-NDPickers – usually women and girls – cut the stems of bunches with curved knives and put them to the locally used gathering containers. Then the bunches were put into the men’s grape-baskets carried on their backs, shoulders or hands. After pouring the grapes into tubs, they started mincing or stomping them. You can watch the process on the newsreel below broadcasting a vine-harvest festival from the picturesque Mecsekalja of Pécs. In some picture-frames you can see the inevitable brass-band, the violin and the dance as well.


If you do not have the opportunity to visit a real vine-harvest, you might join the ‘Füredi Szüret’ festival in Balatonfüred, where anyone can enjoy the festive feeling of a harvest.

Translated by Zita Aknai


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