Open Garden Café Day is an event in which residents of a specific city or region open their gardens and turn them into cafés for visitors. They serve a variety of food, coffee, and beverages. This tradition began in 2007 in Kärdla, Estonia, and we held our first open garden day in Hungary in 2016!
The idea came from a half-Hungarian, half-Estonian family who spends a lot of time in Tartu and was introduced to Estonian-style open cafés. They wished to introduce this lovely custom to Veszprém, Tartu's Hungarian twin city.
Many people are unaware that Estonian, Finnish, and Hungarian are all descended from the same language tree, which is known as the Finno-Ugric languages. Veszprém was named the Finno-Ugric Capital of Culture in 2016, as part of an initiative to strengthen Finno-Ugric identity. The first open garden day was held in one of Veszprém's suburban areas called Jerusalem Hill in the same year, in collaboration with the community of Jerusalem Hill Circle of Friends.
The event was held for the sixth time in 2022, but with a slight twist. The organisers wanted to strengthen the Estonian-Hungarian bond, so they invited an Estonian musician to perform in Veszprém and tell a few stories about Estonia. Kadri G. Laube entertained us with her accordion, taught us some traditional dances, and even taught us how to say 'Hi' in Estonian.
Things worked out well for me because I got to see both versions of this event and was not disappointed. I love the idea, and I think it's a great and unique way to create a welcoming environment. The people who opened their homes to us were extremely nice and welcoming. Locals loved the events, and the streets were packed with people walking from one garden to the next.
Currently, Hungary has only one open garden day per year, whereas Estonia has several events throughout the summer. I hope that this tradition will gain more recognition and that they will be able to organise more events in the future.