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Hungary prepares for St Stephen’s Day

August 20th, 2020
A pro-government columnist writes that Hungary has defended Europe and Christianity ever since its foundation by St Stephen. His left-wing counterpart suggests that Hungarians do not buy into the religious interpretation of the holiday.

Magyar Nemzet’s György Pilhál cherishes the fact that for the past three decades, St Stephen’s Day been celebrated in accordance with its genuine and original meaning. The pro-government commentator recalls that Communists failed to appropriate the national day by replacing its Christian and national messages with Communist symbolism centered around the new bread from the first August harvest. Pilhál suggests that the main diplomatic goal of St Stephen was to avoid Hungary’s assimilation into the Byzantine Empire by founding a Roman Catholic Hungary and making it part of Europe. Ever since, Hungary has defended Western Europe and Christianity from external threats, but has always been abandoned by Europe in its hour of need, Pilhál suggests. He believes it an almost magical experience that ‘Hungary’s St Stephen’s day is blistering with sunlight while godlessness and darkness are on the rise in the surrounding world’.

In Népszava, Miklós Hargitai writes that despite the government’s efforts to frame St Stephen’s Day as a Christian and national holiday, Hungarians have very diverse interpretations of the celebrations. The left-wing columnist suspects that most Hungarians identify the national holiday with the regular August 20 fireworks, which have been canceled this year as mass gatherings are not authorized under Covid-19 restrictions. Hargitai finds it complacent of the government to preach Christian values, without acting in accordance with them. In conclusion, Hargitai thinks that Hungarians had better celebrate the new bread on August 20, and hope that they will have enough to feed themselves this time next year.