|Hungarian holidays include both national and religious
celebrations. Most businesses in Hungary shut down for the holidays. If
a major holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, the day between it and
the weekend also becomes a holiday. March 15 marks the day of the outbreak
of the 1848 Revolution and the War of Independence. People gather at the
Petőfi Statue and the National Museum to remember the revolt
against the Habsburgs.
The Feast of St. Stephen (Szent István), Founder of the Nation, is celebrated on August 20. A case containing the right hand of St. Stephen is carried in a procession from the Basilica through the streets of Budapest. The day is also marked by sporting events, parades and fireworks. During communist rule August 20 was known as Constitution Day and the day of the "New Bread."
|October 23 commemorates the beginning of the 1956
revolution, which was led by students who wanted to change the political
system. Hundreds of people died or were imprisoned and thousands were forced
to flee the country. When Hungary became an independent republic in 1989,
October 23 was chosen as the day on which independence would be proclaimed,
to honour those who had fought in 1956.
During communist rule, there were large parades on May 1, Labour Day. Now workers celebrate with beer and music, sponsored by local trade unions.
St. Nicholas is said to visit each home on the evening of December 5. Children put out their shoes or boots for St. Nicholas to find. If the child is good, St. Nicholas will leave sweets in the shoes. If a child has been bad he or she will only get a virgács, a small bunch of twigs painted gold and tied up with a red ribbon.
|Hungarian families celebrate Christmas on December
24, rather than December 25. The Christmas tree is decorated with real
candles and szaloncukor, a type of candy. Family members light the
candles and sing Christmas carols. The candles are then put out and the
family dinner follows. At midnight families attend mass at Church.