August the 20th: Hungarian national holiday

It’s St. Stephen’s Day today. St. Stephen (ca. 975 – 15 August 1038) was our founding king who established the Kingdom of Hungary in AD 1000.  His feast day or nameday marks the day of the Foundation of Hungary. It’s  also “the Day of the New Bread” because  harvesting was traditionally finished on this day.

The Hungarian tribes conquered the Carpathian Basin at the end of the 9th century,  in the last wave of the Migration Period.  A feudal state had to be established or Hungarians would have disappeared like so many peoples did in the age of the  Migration Period.  St. Stephen (“Szent István”) led the country into the Christian church and established the institutions of the kingdom and the church.  He chose Western Christianity even though the Byzantine influence was much stronger in his time and it actually looked more promising than Western Christianity.  We, modern Hungarians, should thank him for that, too, because Western Christianity turned out to result in a better organized state, less corruption and less despotism.

St. Stephen’s statue in Buda Castle

The holiday is always celebrated with  lots of programs (I attended a free concert of Ghymes yesterday 🙂  ), including the oath taking of newly graduated policemen and military officers and the evening  fireworks display on the bank of the Danube in the evening, which is always attended by many people on both river banks  and is watched by many from the hills on the Buda side of the river.

Watch last year’s firework here:

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3 Comments

  1. This is the simplistic version of events.
    I don’t want to spend a whole day of what has led to the adoption of Christianity in Hungary, and that we were here already with Attila the Hun, but the above stuff is what the communist have taught us about our beginning of the end.

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  2. Southerner

     /  20/08/2014

    A very happy St. Stephen’s Day to a nation that has faithfully stood guard over the eastern boundarys of, as well as established many of Europes’ finest traditions. May your country live long and love freadom and the One whom the great old saint yielded to. Southerner

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