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Lesson Transcript

Simone: All about lesson 9. Top 5 Important Dates During The Hungarian Calendar Year.
Csaba: In this lesson, we are going to learn about five holidays that are near and dear to the hearts of Hungarian people.

Lesson focus

Simone: I think the first and foremost one is very obvious.
Csaba: Yes the most important holiday for Hungarian people is Christmas.
Simone: It is one of the most important Christian celebrations.
Csaba: And there is a lot of traditions attached to it.
Simone: It is quite a festival to celebrate the birth of Christ.
Csaba: Christmas as in all Christian countries is a day to celebrate the birth of Christ.
Simone: I think New Year’s is perhaps even more festive and important than Christmas though right?
Csaba: More festive maybe but I think the most important one is still Christmas since this is the day when the whole family gets together to exchange gifts and this is also the day when people working abroad will definitely come home for a visit.
Simone: And to wait for Santa or do they…
Csaba: Well in Hungary, Santa comes on the 6th of December. Baby Jesus on the other hand visits us on the 24th bringing all the presents.
Simone: That’s how it is in many European countries. So the main event is the 24th.
Csaba: Yes but the 25th and the 26th are equally important. You get to visit all the expanded family.
Simone: Which is always fun.
Csaba: Don’t be sarcastic. It is fun especially since you get to try all the Christmas food and sweets and booze you want.
Simone: And not to mention another round of gifts.
Csaba: Sure there is also singing and wishing happiness.
Simone: Teach that one to the listeners please.
Csaba: You have to say Boldog karácsonyt!
Simone: Okay so now let’s talk about the Hungarian Christmas menu.
Csaba: Beigli is one of the items from there.
Simone: It is a sweet roll with poppy seed and sugar.
Csaba: Yes the ultimate Christmas treat. Sometimes they make it with walnuts. So the age old argument on which one is better can start every year.
Simone: You want to do this now?
Csaba: Poppy seed.
Simone: Walnut.
Csaba: I knew it.
Simone: Okay leave this thing for now.
Csaba: Another famous food is töltött káposzta or stuffed cabbage.
Simone: It is sauce covered cabbage balls filled with meat and covered in sour cream.
Csaba: And there is a lot more too. Just try to get yourself invited to a Hungarian Christmas party.
Simone: All right. Shall we move on?
Csaba: The #2 spot must go to the youngest national holiday, the 23rd of October.
Simone: The origins of this holiday are essential to learn about even for students who want to understand the current trends in Hungarian politics.
Csaba: The revolution of 1956 was a fight against the Stalinist dictatorship and the terror that characterized the 40s and the 50s and also against the soviet oppression.
Simone: Students demonstrations erupted on the 23rd of October in Budapest and Debrecen. The crowd later toppled the Stalin statue and demanded freedom.
Csaba: Yes and things were really looking up for a while but later it was violently beaten.
Simone: So how does Hungary remember this today?
Csaba: There are memorial services and TV programs about the revolution. People visit in large gatherings to remember the events.
Simone: National television broadcast celebrations too.
Csaba: It is very important to the Hungarian people.
Simone: And so is the third date on our list which is
Csaba: The 15th of March when we remember the 1848 revolution against the Austrian empire.
Simone: That’s quite a while back.
Csaba: It is but it has shaped the history of Hungary for centuries. See, the Austrian empire had been controlling Hungary before the revolution when in 1848, the people decided to rise up.
Simone: That’s right. It all started with poets, writers and students giving speeches just like a lot of other revolutions in history.
Csaba: Exactly. Soon the revolution turned into an all out war for independence and it lasted for 2 years.
Simone: Hungary essentially got rid of the Austrian rule and led a successful campaign in spring 1849.
Csaba: Unfortunately at this point, the Russian army came to help Austria which meant that the Hungarian army had two fronts to fight. By the end of that summer, the country had no choice but to lay down arms.
Simone: And how do people remember this day now?
Csaba: Well I think it is a very uplifting but sad part of the Hungarian history.
Simone: Yes that’s what I’ve always thought too.
Csaba: On this day, we visit memorials, attend services and schools give performances.
Simone: Yes and readings of the works of all those poets take place sometimes by professionals too.
Csaba: There is a whole celebration in Budapest which follows the journey of the revolutionists. The one person everyone remembers from the revolution is Petőfi Sándor. His poems are resided everywhere on this day.
Simone: It is like many occasions in Hungarian history sad and beautiful.
Csaba: Indeed.
Simone: Shall we move on?
Csaba: Sure.
Simone: The next one is August 20.
Csaba: Or the Birthday of the country.
Simone: Also called St. Stephen’s Day. Who was he and why do we remember him so fondly?
Csaba: He was the first king of Hungary and he unified the Hungarian tribes into one nation.
Simone: That’s why he was canonized right?
Csaba: Among other things yes. He basically turned Hungary into a Christian state which became a part of Europe that people didn’t see as a place of dangerous savages.
Simone: Which had been the case before him right?
Csaba: And it still is. Don’t I look savage enough?
Simone: Not at all.
Csaba: Good then.
Simone: Any way, what is it we celebrate on August 20?
Csaba: I would say that it is a general remembrance of the king and the Hungarian Kingdom but more specifically this is the day when he was canonized in 1083.
Simone: I see. It is a very old National holiday too.
Csaba: It is also a religious holiday. You can attend masses and services on this day.
Simone: But what really makes people move on this day is the fireworks right?
Csaba: Yes the fireworks.
Simone: The Birthday of a country deserves a big set of fireworks.
Csaba: Indeed the one in Budapest is huge.
Simone: It is especially beautiful since the rockets are launched from bridges, mountains in Budapest as well as boats sometimes.
Csaba: Yeah all the colors, the Danube, monuments, everything is there along with a lot of people.
Simone: If you are in Hungary on August 20, you shouldn’t miss it.
Csaba: Okay moving on to the last most important holiday in Hungary.
Simone: Which one is #5?
Csaba: Coming in at 5th place, we have Easter.
Simone: Easter, I thought it would have come up sooner.
Csaba: Well nobody wants to deny its importance in the religious calendar but the fact is that less and less people keep the traditions every year.
Simone: I am not happy about this either.
Csaba: Yes. Well anyways, I am sure a lot of people know this already but I will say it any way. Easter is on the 1st Sunday after the first full moon following the Vernal Equinox.
Simone: That means something between the end of March and the end of April.
Csaba: Yes.
Simone: And what do Hungarians do on a Easter?
Csaba: It is customary to visit female members of the family and friends as well. Basically what you do is you go there, say a poem called locsolóvers.
Simone: Which means
Csaba: It’s kind of hard to explain but in it, you ask for permission to pour a lot of cold water on the girls.
Simone: Oh nice especially in the Hungarian March when it is still snowing sometimes.
Csaba: Yes but now-a-days, we just use cologne.
Simone: Better. What next?
Csaba: You apply plenty of water cologne on the girls who later give you painted or chocolate eggs.
Simone: Sounds fun. Is there a catch?
Csaba: Not really. The only sad thing is that now-a-days, people are less willing to take part in the tradition.
Simone: Uh that’s not good.
Csaba: Well the tradition is still alive but less and less so.
Simone: Well getting treated with 15 different colognes a day is kind of a burden.
Csaba: Well that’s why I go for the less smelly bucket of icy water.
Simone: Okay, okay settle down. No eggs for you.
Csaba: See it works the other way around.
Simone: Any way, this whole thing is followed by
Csaba: Drinking of course and sampling the cookies girls had prepared.
Simone: What about families that don’t follow these traditions?
Csaba: They still come together to eat Ham, eggs and bread. Distant family members will also visit you to have some fun together.


Simone: Great. This was just a sampling of all the holidays and festivals Hungary has in store for you.