Sunday, July 10, 2016

MythOff Budapest - The Myth of Champions

What can you do when you find out that the date you set for the summer MythOff also happens to be the date of a semi-final for the European Football Championship?
You organize a football-themed MythOff.

The third ever MythOff Budapest managed to be innovative for a number of reasons. First off, we had a new venue, a nice bar-slash-event-space, which managed to host most of our 60+ (!!!) listeners. Once again, we outgrew the venue. Not that we are complaining. We also had a new storyteller joining us, a new theme, 80% new audience, and a new-found appreciation for our listeners who all pitched in to help us cover the venue fee. All in all, MythOff was fresh, exciting, and very successful.

Here is how the rounds went down:

Round 1: Game of Myths
In this round we told myths from the two countries that played in the semi-final that night. We only found out for sure the Sunday before; it was an added challenge for the storytellers to pick and rehearse their myths in time. 
Germanic mythology: Representing the German team, Szilvia Varga-Fogarasi told a piece from the Nibelungenlied, where Siegfried was dividing a pile of treasure between two Dwarves, and realized that it is hard to be the judge in the middle of a family feud.
Celtic/Christian mythology: Since the other team was France, it took me some time to figure out what to tell. I settled for the Breton legend of Saint Hervé, partly because it is definitely a part of Christian mythology, partly because it definitely has pre-Christian Celtic roots... and partly because I could not pass up the blind bard with the tame wolf.
Voting question: "If you had to choose between Siegfried's judgment and the blind bard, to select a referee for the Championship finals, which one would you go with?"
People voted for the blind referee.

Round 2: Consolation Myths
This round included myths from countries that were already out of the running for football champion - as a form of honorable mention to their participation, and to showcase how awesome their stories are.
Southern Slavic mythology: Our new storyteller, Júlia Lovranits, brought us an intriguing, old Slavic myth that she pieced together from various Slovenian, Croatian, and Serbian sources. It was a flood-and-creation myth, and had connections to current folk beliefs and traditions; she even brought a cow bell to chase away bad spirits (we also used the cow bell to herd people back to their places after the break).
Norse mythology: Sometimes, even in the MythOff lineup, we get some classics everybody loves. This time it was the story of Thor dressing up as a bride to get his hammer back from the Jötuns. Maja Bumberák told the original text straight from the Poetic Edda, and brought out beautifully the humor hiding in the words...
Voting question: "If a museum only had one space left for the Night of the Museums exhibit, which item should they display, Thor's wedding veil, or Kurent's human-creating sweat drops?"
People decided they definitely wanted Thor's wedding veil on display.

Round 3: Play and Competition
In order to incorporate a broader theme into the evening, we designed a round of myths that had something to do with contests, balls, or the enjoyment of play. Out last two storytellers picked their own stories based on these motifs, rather than by culture.
Mayan mythology: László Gregus told us the myth of the Hero-Twins who played a ball game against the Lords of the Dead. It had everything a good mythical sport even requires: Beheading, heart sacrifice, burning alive, rivers of blood, and, of course, a happy ending...
Greek mythology: And, to end on the Classics, the last storyteller of the evening, Enikő Nagy, told us the story of Atalanta and the golden apples. She is a very elegant and graceful teller, perfect fit for a love story, and she even managed to tie us back to the very first MythOff we had...
Voting question: "If the Hero-Twins had to play a game of modern-day football against Atalanta and her husband, which pair would win?"
The game was a close call; 33 to 29 the Hero-Twins came out victorious.

The Prizes: Following the football theme of the evening, I created special prizes: Three teams of "button football", each one featuring 11 pictures of gods and goddesses as the players of the team. There was a team of Egyptian deities, a team of Greeks, and a team of Norse mythology. Button football is kind of a classic game in Hungary, and the small plastic buttons are dirt cheap; we adhered to the spirit of MythOff by putting fun over expenses.

All in all, it was a great night of myths and fun. I'm curious to see what we'll come up with next...


  1. What a delightful idea! Footy and mythology! I love it!

  2. Certainly looks like a great time was had by all.

  3. Great idea!

    Btw, It's "Nibelungenlied". The rule that long i's are transcribed as "ie" in German is relatively new, so it doesn't count for the Middle High German "Nibelungen"