This morning I checked my mail box and found something very strange, or at least strange for me as an Italian. The City had me delivered a flyer as a reminder of the approaching national holiday, namely March 15 in memory of the war for independence against the Habsburg rule. It struck me as very unusual, since back in Italy we don’t get such reminders. Actually, we are barely taught social studies and many people don’t even know the meaning behind our own national holidays. I guess it perfectly explains one of the reasons why, generally speaking, Italian people are quite ignorant about the history of their country and are not so patriotic…

hussar

Anyway, contrarily to Italy, Hungary does take pride in its culture, traditions and history (even when they lose and this used to happen quite often). It’s interesting to know that here they have three national holidays: on August 20th they celebrate Saint King Stephen (yes, he was a king and a saint, very cool!) and the foundation of Hungary, on October 23rd they rejoyce for the victory over the Communist regime in 1956 and March is dedicated to the memory of the War of Independence against Austria in 1848. Even more interesting is the fact that, though they rebelled along with probably half of Europe at that time, theirs was a short victory, since Austria, with the aid of Russia, conquered Hungary back the following year. I can feel a certain sympathy with Hungarian people, since Northern Italy was under the Austrians too, did revolt against the Habsburg Empire in 1848 too and did fail miserably too. I have to admit, a quite envy their spirit!

The riots started in Budapest, where poet Sándor Petőfi is said to have inflamed people with his speech, the National Song (Nemzeti dal) and “motivated” them to rebel.

hussar (1)On your feet, Magyar, the homeland calls!
The time is here, now or never!
Shall we be slaves or free?
This is the question, choose your answer! –
By the God of the Hungarians
We vow,
We vow, that we will be slaves
No longer!
[…]
The Magyar name will be great again,
Worthy of its old, great honor;
Which the centuries smeared on it,
We will wash away the shame!
By the God of the Hungarians
We vow,
We vow, that we will be slaves
No longer!

Very inspiring, isn’t it? In fact I think Hungarians might have won if it wasn’t that Austria joined forces with Russia and well, you just don’t go against Russia.

This is my brief explanation of this national holiday, I have no idea what it’s written word by word on my leaflet but the pictures are nice and though I can’t read, it makes me curious about it. The City’s strategy works and I’m a little less ignorant! (thanks also to my lovely colleague who always “translate” for me and Wikipedia, of course!). Now, like a kid, let’s enjoy the colouring section! 😀

For those who wants to know a little more: this national festivity is not celebrated just in Hungary but by Hungarians in general, which means by the Hungarian minorities present in Eastern Europe and especially in Transylvania (now officially Romania, but until the end of the WWI was still part of Hungary). As I was searching for more information about it, I came across an article from the Economist that I would like to share. Only one comment: way to go Hungary, hanging the Szeklèr flag in plain sight on the Parliament!

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