The study deals with three topics: firstly what is the Hungarian folklore culture in the Hungarian common knowledge; secondly how, due to what outer and inner influence, process did this culture evolved to such form that we got to know in the 20th century, and/or we thought we got to know, and thirdly what role does the Hungarian folklore culture play in European context.
Folklore culture is considered one of the most important institutions of national existance, and medium of ancient, national sings, and characteristics. At the same time science is aware of the fact that except for the language in the Hungarian folklore culture there is no such phenomenon that would be known in the whole Hungarian language field and only in the Hungarian language field. The other extreme is represented by those viewpoints that comprehend folklore culture as such sub-culture that builds from culture elements crumbled away from the “high culture”, and from this “waste” can show at most values of local and only partial importance, and that deal with ethnography as with “light opera”.
Well, in fact both viewpoints (the enthusiastically affirming and the rigidly rejecting) can be originated from the not knowing (or surface knowing) of the essence of folklore culture and taking no account of the results of ethnography. Folklore culture is a historical phenomenon, that from one hand means that it is forming and changing constantly, enrichening with new elements (forming them to its own picture), while others simply rejects. Overestimating or ignoring its role is not right.
We cannot understand the folklore culture and the ethnographic phenomena of a given nation without knowing the culture of neighbouring nations and comparing examination. Besides all this is one of the missions of European ethnology.
It can be explained from the point of view of scientific history, but it cannot be reasoned that our ethnographic experience (and in fact not just our) identifies spreading territory of „our folklore culture” with the Hungarian language territory (and in fact the „national” folklore culture with the language expansion of the given ethnical-national group). From one hand it is evident that the folklore culture of a particular ethnic group is generally not unified, it consists of more smaller and bigger basic units – that differ from each other – and at the same time connect to each other like mosaics. On the other hand certain cultural phenomena (we have to admit that the most!) strech over language borders, and depending on the etnic group, create cultures and culture circles that are connected to each other. Thus, in our case it would be better to talk for example about the folklore culture of the Carpathian basin, that has certain regional, small-country – but no or by all means ethnical (language!) – defined sub-groups (for example Pannon region, Upper Land, Low Land, etc.).