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The National Anthem through a political lens

January 24th, 2023

The Day of Hungarian Culture has been celebrated on 22 January since 1989, the day in 1823 when Ferenc Kölcsey completed the verses of what would soon become the Hungarian National Anthem. Commentators on both sides draw political lessons on the 200th anniversary.

In Magyar Nemzet, Dávid Megyeri quotes Prime Minister Orbán, who told a church congregation on the anniversary that although Kölcsey’s anthem is a prayer to God, Hungarians sing it on their feet, rather than on their knees. Megyeri calls on the opposition to join the ‘Hungarian side and ditch the crazy directives of rich foreigners’.

In Népszava, on the other hand, Miklós Hargitai deplores the time-honoured habit of using the national anthem to justify current policies. He also castigates what he sees as a tradition among Hungarians to take the words of the anthem literally, constantly repeating their grievances and waiting for God to change their lot – instead of fighting to rectify what has gone wrong in their lives.

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