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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Hungary, Lesson 7 - Memorial Day of The 13 Martyrs of Arad
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Hungary Series at HungarianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Hungarian holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 7, Memorial Day of The 13 Martyrs of Arad. In Hungarian, it’s called az aradi vértanúk emléknapja.
In this lesson, we will discuss another tragic date in Hungarian history. In a previous episode, we talked about the 1848-49 war of independence. This time, we will learn about the thirteen martyrs of Arad, how they nettled the Austrian army, and what their punishment, or büntetés, was.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?
Why didn’t Hungarians clink their glasses for 150 years after October 6, 1849, when drinking beer, or in Hungarian sör?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
On October 6, 1849, according to the verdict of the Austrian Emperor’s court-martial, thirteen officers of the Hungarian army were put to death. Why? The Austrian army could defeat Hungarian freedom fighters only by asking for military help from Russia. The Hungarian army couldn’t cope with the huge Russian army, in Hungarian called orosz hadsereg, and on August 13 laid down their arms near the village of Világos before their enemies. This was a huge offence to the Habsburg Empire, because it amounted to proof that the Austrian Emperor couldn’t beat the Hungarians alone, without the help of Russia.
Before laying their arms down, the Hungarian soldiers and officers were promised they would leave freely if they surrendered. Unfortunately, this wasn’t true. Bloody revenge and cruel punishments were dealt out, all under the watch of Hungary’s actual plenipotentiary governor, Haynau. As revenge for surrendering to Russia and not to the Habsburgs, the Thirteen Martyrs of Arad were doomed to death by the rope, or in Hungarian kötél általi halál instead of gunpowder and bullet, which was considered a right of all soldiers at that time.
Many people mourned and pilgrims went to Arad after the execution, or kivégzés. Yet most Hungarians could think of and commemorate their beloved ones freely only after the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867. The thirteen Hungarian heroes have been an inspiration to many artists over the 19th and 20th centuries; you can see them in paintings, sculptures and monuments all over Hungary. October 6 is a day of mourning and a national holiday in Hungary.
After the execution of the martyrs, Lajos Batthyány, the first prime minister, or miniszterelnök, of Hungary, was also put to death. His widow cursed Emperor Franz Josef to lose thirteen of his close relatives before he died. Many believe that this curse came true; as eventually the Emperor lost thirteen relatives, all of whom died young and under unnatural circumstances.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Why didn’t Hungarians clink their glasses for 150 years after October 6, 1849, when drinking beer, or in Hungarian sör?
Austrian officers were said to have clinked their glasses of beer to celebrate the execution of the thirteen martyrs of Arad. According to legend, as a protest against the executions, a new resolution spread all over the country: Hungarians refused to clink their glasses when drinking beer. If somehow they forgot and accidentally did clink their glasses, in remembrance of the martyrs they would be sure to say “Down with Haynau”.
Did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
What kind of beverage do you pour into your glass to toast with on special occasions?
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