The ’miller’s wafer’ tradition in Borsodnádasd

The ’miller’s wafer’ tradition in Borsodnádasd(2012)

Making ‘miller’s wafers’ (molnárkalács) is a vibrant local tradition in the town of Borsodnádasd (in north-central Hungary). Development of the sweet wafer derives from the holy Eucharistic wafer in the Roman Catholic liturgy.

The miller’s wafer was originally a customary treat during the Lenten season, Easter and Christmas celebrations, in traditional spinning rooms and at weddings. The tradition has been passed on from generation to generation within family units.

The wafers are made with two purpose-designed circular cooking irons. Borsodnádasd became the centre of wafer iron-making following the establishment of the nearby Sheet Metal Plant (1864).  Wafer irons were common utensils in Borsodnádasd kitchens since the establishment of the local Sheet Metal Plant (1864) where the raw materials, machinery and technology for preparing wafer irons was readily available to the rapidly urbanizing inhabitants. Among the hundreds of wafer irons in the households of Borsodnádasd no two are alike. Each has a unique decorative pattern and inscription.

The local history museum also boasts a multitude of wafer irons on display. In the last decade the city municipality together with NGOs and interest groups have recognized the community building effect of the tradition and have organized wafer-making demonstrations and festivals to safeguard and perpetuate their folk heritage. Thanks to the concerted effort of heritage preservation, increasingly greater numbers of young people are becoming active participants and bearers of the tradition.

Hungarian National Commission for UNESCO
Elemér Muharay Folk Art Assosiation
Assosiation of Hungarian Folk Artists
Institute of Ethnology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Kriza János Ethnographic Society
Hungarian Ethnographic Society
Museum of Ethnography
Hungarian Heritage House
National Cultural Institute