Had he been born in our country:
There was census taking in Bethlehem,
That’s how the story of Christmas begings,
And at this time, in a delapidated stable
Was the only Son of the Lord, Mary’s child born
There was no one to give them shelter
Animals were breathing warmth over him
He did not have warm pillows, nor a single blanket
Tells us the legend… Because he was born there!
But had he been born in Cegléd, or Kecskemét,
In Hortobágy, Magyar land,
The true story of the First Christmas
Would sound like this:
Rose was just sweeping the yard,
John placed clean litter under the animals,
Little Peter played with the old tomcat
And the puli … he was walking somewhere in the back.
That’s when Joseph reached the front of the house
The quiet silence was breathing the good smell of milk,
Mary was almost too tired to walk.
Joseph greeted the folk in the yard.
Rose accepted the greeting with a loud voice
“What wind brought you folks this way?”
We would be going to follow the law. But the woman is sick
And we would need rest, since the evening is upon us.
We were looking for shelter in the pub,
but its tenant did not give us a place,
Oh, my, the woman is near her time.
But in vain! We have no money, because I am poor!
A stable would be enough
As long there is a roof above our head…
Rose leaned her broom against the wall,
Bodri, the dog sneaked near the little gate.
Go back you scoundrel!
Come in people, into the house!
There must be at least one bed in this house…
Oh how tired the poor soul is!
She opened the gate wide
Mary’s face is pale as wax.
Don’t bark Bodri! Can’t you see these are guests?!
Go little Peter and call your father!
Come my dear, I will help
Just lean on me! …Step carefully!
So, so my little soul! *… You close the gate! she tells the man.
But hurry up, and you too should help!...
John too came hurridly
His hard hands still hold the pitchfork.
Travelers… They don’t have a place of rest… And the woman is sick…
I invited them! … Why should you not have done it?!...
Make up a clean bed for the woman
The man can sleep on the bench.
And we can find some food in this house…
Peter, my son, run for a little wine!
Bodri the dog came also close quietly
Peter already comes with a big bottle.
And while the woman makes up the bed,
John brought some sousage and a jug full of milk.
Pain is shaking already Mary
She is resting among pillow quietly.
And while the woman sets the table she sees with reassurance
That John already started the fire.
The fire was already flaming in the brick oven
Rose is standing quietly at the bed.
And the smell of the clean bed and pillow,
Settled gently, like peace upon their souls …
The moon was shining outside
And scattered silver dust onto the house and the region.
And it was not midnight yet, when in the warm room,
The long awaited Babe was born.
There was a cradle from the neighbor.
From András Nagy came a little laced blanket.
And four-five women made a happy noise
In the next room, around the the little tub
Encircling it nicely.
Oh, what a beautiful boy!... Just look at him, dad!
Said enthusiastically Rose, while she carefully washed the Babe…
And it is how the divine Child was born…
That is, if he had been born among us!
*Words of endearment in Magyar culture are: my soul, my star, my gold, my angel, my heart, my pearl, etc.
Magyar name of Rose is Rozál, John is János and little Peter is Péterke in the original poem. Joseph and Mary is József and Mária.
Below: A typical peasant room in Mezőkövesd Hungary.