Monday, December 19, 2011

Luca Witch

In Hungary the 13th of December is celebrated as Luca Day, a day when evil walks amongst us, similar to the Western "All Hallows Eve".

On Luca Day the young men of the town would start to build the Luca Chair. Each day up until Christmas Eve you had to work on a particular part of this chair, which eventually had to be constructed and carved out of 13 different types of wood, over 13 days. On Christmas Eve the guys would smuggle the chair into midnight mass hidden beneath their coats. Superstition was that if you stood on the chair at midnight you would be able to see who amongst those present was a witch. The Witches on this evening would grow long horns, invisible to the naked eye. Because of the horns they would have to duck or bend over as they entered the gate of the church. The person who stood on the Luca chair would be able to see the horns and identify the witch – then they would have to run home (screaming and hollering I imagine) lest the witch, enraged that she/he’d been discovered tore them to shreds. By dismantling and burning the Luca Chair in the fire you symbolically burned the witch – the little pieces of wood were rumoured to shriek in the fire as the evil spirits were burned.

I loved the imagery of the witches sprouting horns, and am working on a small series of Luca Portraits inspired by this tradition. The horns here are based upon a traditional breed of giant grey cattle confined to Hungary known simply as "Grey Cattle " (Szürke Marha).


  1. I had never heard of this tale, thank you for sharing.... your witch is awesome.

  2. It's strictly a Hungarian Folk Tradition, that's why I thought it might be interesting for people un-familiar with it!

  3. These Hungarian folk tales and traditions are so interesting AND always way more peculiar than I could ever have imagined..... an insight into otherworldly beliefs and superstitions X

  4. I made my Luca chair when I was 8... never been more scared in my life. Growing up in Hungary was so awesome. Rich in history and legends... sometimes they cross and that doesn't mean to bother anyone. Mohacs also holds a dark tradition ;)

  5. I also heard to spread poppy seeds as you run home because Luca has to pick each and every seed up one by one before she can get you... I'm sure it varies by region, I'm from Komarom - Esztergom megye.


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