20th of August, the greatest national holiday in Hungary
Actually, 20th August is a national holiday in Hungary but this is a really complex day because it has national, folk, and even religious features. For tourists, it’s a good new because there are various programs on this day all over the country. It’s not surprising that the most important and interesting events are in Budapest. The prelude is the ceremonial raising of the Hungarian flag in the Kossuth Square. After that, you can see the military officers’ inauguration. Both programs are really spectacular!
Who was King Stephen I?
Before the first millennium, Hungarians were pagan. They led a nomad lifestyle and often led little and rapid invasions into the Christian states of Europa. However, a chief called Géza recognized that this kind of lifestyle couldn’t be permanent, and asked priests from the Holy Roman emperor. He only started the big work, but his son, Stephen had the most merits in the foundation of the Christian and feudal state. He became the first king of Hungary. He’s known as the founder of the Hungarian state and the Hungarian Church. Later, he was canonized and Catholic Hungarians respect him as the main patron saint of the country.
20th of August as a folk holiday
This is the traditional holiday of the new bread so it has a great role in folk culture. There are harvest processions all over the country, and naturally, it can also be seen in Budapest. On this day, farmers and also many other people give thanks for the successful harvest, and the new bread is blessed.
Two main symbols of St Stephen’s Day
First of all, the Saint Crown which is served in the Dome Hall in the Hungarian Parliament. With some limitations, it can be visited during the whole year, but on the 20th August, always several people would like to see it. Legends say that King Stephen got this crown from the current Pope (Silvester II), but it’s not true. Some parts of the crown might be from that age but the whole jewel is younger. Anyway, it’s still one of the oldest coronation jewelry in Europe, and it’s worthily an important item of the national history. Since the late XI. century, the Hungarian kings had to be crowned with this legendary crown. There were two other essential conditions: the site had to be Székesfehérvár, and the ceremony had to be performed by the archbishop of Esztergom. If any of these criteria were not satisfied, the king’s legitimacy was questionable.
The other significant symbol is a relic, the so-called Saint Right Hand. It’s considered to be the hand of Saint Stephen I. In the afternoon, many Catholic Hungarians take part in the ceremonial mass after which the procession of the Saint Right Hand is performed.
If a huge crowd expected wherever in Hungary, gastronomy fairs will be surely organized there, too. Pork sausages are sold in each of them, but chimney cake is also a common product. The most famous one is the ’Street of Hungarian Tastes’ where you can taste something really special. Every year, there is a race among confectioners, and the champion cake is called the ’Cake of the Country’. Have you missed it? Never mind, because after 20th August, it is made and sold in confectioneries all over the country, so you can easily make up for your miss.
There are some concerts and music events, too, where you can simply have fun. Mostly they are regardless of the content of the holiday. On other fairs, beautiful craftworks are sold such as carved or blacksmith products, embroideries, or candles. Some vendors sell also toys which are high-quality and unique but often expensive. On the other hand, children surely won’t bore them after a few days.
The spectacular finale: Budapest firework
The events of the day end with marvelous fireworks. People on the bank of the Danube or in front of the TV at their homes will enjoy exciting patterns and multiple colors. If you don’t want to be the part of the crowd but would like to be near the site, choose a firework cruise where you receive a comfortable, elegant milieu and high-quality drinks.
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