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Young Székely boy in Parajd, Székelyföld (Erdély), goes "sprinkling" - Húsvét Székelyföldön

EASTER IN HUNGARY


 The Hungarians call Lent the Great Fast (nagyböjt). Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, Tomorrow it won't be as it is today, sing and lament the Hungarians. During Lent it was forbidden to eat any meat. Therefore the day before Ash Wednesday is called in Hungarian húshagyó kedd, meaning Meat Abandoning Tuesday.

Centuries ago, on Palm Sunday, it was customary to bless not only branches but also the various flowers of the season. In fact, the flowers are still mentioned in the antiphons after the prayer of blessing. Thus, the name Flower Sunday (Virágvasárnap) is used in Hungary. // Picture: "Sprinkling" in Parajd, Székely Autonomous Region //
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American Hungarian Museum

Invitation AHM The AMERICAN HUNGARIAN MUSEUM, PASSAIC was established to preserve, exhibit and cultivate Hungarian culture in one of the largest Hungarian communities in the United States. The MUSEUM specializes in the collection of memorabilia from the community, valuable folk art treasures, folk-crafts, and examples of the art.

The Museum displays exhibits either from its own collection or from private loans. More ...

  • CoatofArmsAngels

    Brief History of Hungary

    1100 years of statehood in the Carpathian Basin,
    1000 years of Christian Kingdom,
    40 years since the 1956 Freedom fight. More ...

  • csangofold-lany

    Csángós

    The Forgotten Hungarians

    Miraculously, about 100 thousand Csángós still speak Hungarian, the use of which language is prohibited outside their homes. More ...

  • 1848nemzetor

    1848 & 1849

    On March 3, 1848, Kossuth made a long speech in the lower house, demanding representative parliamentary government not only for Hungary but also for the Austrian hereditary provinces. More ...

  • historical-hungary

    Subcarpathia

    In The Center of Pan-Slavic Aspirations

    With exception of the Hungarians ... the Ukrainians have no serious intention to help the Ruthenian people of Subcarpathia More ...

Easter – Hímestojás

HÍMESTOJÁS

Hungarian Decorated Easter Eggs

Emese Kerkay
Hungarian Decorated eggs, painted with Matyó and Kalocsa designs
Hungarian Decorated eggs, painted with Matyó and Kalocsa designs

The cult of the decorated egg is one of the most ancient religious customs of humanity, and goes back thousands of years. The egg plays a significant role in the story of creation for many people. It represents the secret of eternal life condensed in a small enclosed and perfect geometrical form. Inside of the protective white mass is the mysterious gold, the Secret of secrets, the sprout. Doesn’t the gold inside the egg represent a drop of the creative power of the sun, which stands above all?

The egg is the ancient symbol of spring in the religion of numerous people. As the carrier of life it represents the past and the future. The egg is not only the symbol of creation but also of life, rebirth, resurrection, and above all fertility. The Hungarian custom of dousing women with water –  locsolás Easter Monday, combined with presenting the symbol of creation, the magical hímestojás, is an ancient fertility ritual, and was taken very seriously.

The symbolism of the Hungarian decorated egg reaches back to pre-Christianity. Even after Hungarians converted to Roman Catholicism in the 10th century, their egg designs, contrary to neighboring people, preserved their original meaning and were not influenced by Christianity. Every aspect of the old Hungarian way of life and beliefs can be found in the abstract motifs, although they are often hard to comprehend. The symbols of the universe, eternal life, shepherding, horsemanship, nature, fertility, diverting of evil, to mention a few, can be found in every region of historical Hungary. Over the centuries the meaning of some of the cultic drawings were forgotten, but Hungarian women still write the same symbols onto the eggs as did their ancestors more than a thousand years ago.

Interpretation of some symbols found on the Hungarian hímestojás: The circle is the symbol of the Creator, with no beginning and no end. In the process of creation, first the whole was divided into two, creating opposites: heaven and earth, this life and beyond. When divided into four, a cross is formed. The symbol of the cross is as old as mankind and is our source of strength since the beginning. To us Hungarians it is the tree of life, but we gave the cross an even more beautiful and adequate name: GOD’S TREE. God, the universe and human life are constantly present on a hímestojás. Life started when the opposite sides began the eternal movement, symbolized by the swastika or sun wheel. Every arm of the swastika, ancient symbol of the sun, represents a base element: water, earth, air, fire. Without these there is no life. In some Hungarian regions egg-decorators also call the spinning swastika type symbol, with four tendrils, a crab tail. The peek and turning of the sun’s orbit is in the astronomical sign of the cancer. This is expressed in the revolving, eddying symbol. This ancient sign from pre-Christian times is used on Hungarian eggs in every part of the country, under different names and in countless versions. It is often intertwined with other symbols, but the ancient meaning remains. Hands or rays represent the protective power of God, and also avert evil. The meander, or oak-leaf, symbolizes family unity. The members of a family, who ate such an egg together at Easter, would never get lost and always find their way home. The symbols of fertility are the rake, cock’s comb, dots, seeds, and the frog. The frog is also the symbol of love and rebirth. The ram represents the sun and renewal. Only animal parts can be seen on a Hungarian egg, never the whole figure.

The color most frequently used in decorating eggs is red. This is the reason for the other popular Hungarian name for the decorated egg: red egg (piros tojás). The magical red is the color of blood, which is the “residence of life” according to the belief of ancient people. Asian horsemen-cultures – the ancestors of the Hungarians included – often put a decorated red egg in the hand of the deceased. The color red also symbolizes eternal life, renewal, love, spring, joy, freedom, new life and resurrection. It brings luck and protects from injury, sickness and fire. Because of its magical powers the name piros tojás is used even if the color red is missing altogether from the egg.

Beside the ancient mythical and religious symbols of many thousands of years, we also have newer but equally typical Hungarian designs. These are individual and vary from region to region in the way of decoration. Folk embroidery, wall and furniture painting, and carving designs are often used.

Traditional Hungarian egg-decorating techniques: 

The most ancient egg-decorating technique is scratch-carving (karcolt, vakart, kotort tojás). The designs are scratched onto naturally dyed eggs (onion skin is favored) with a sharp tool, such as a knife, razor, exacto knife, metal scriber or piece of glass. This technique was mainly used by men.

Written eggs – wax resist or batik (írott tojás) method. A scriber is used to write the symbols onto the white egg with melted beeswax, the egg is placed into the color bath until the desired shade is obtained. In case of a multicolored egg, the procedure is repeated. This is the most widespread method and almost exclusively done by women.

Engraving (metszett hímes) is an interesting version of the written egg. The design is drawn with wax onto the egg, preferably brown, then it is put in vinegar or sauerkraut fluid for four hours. The fluid eats away  the eggshell not protected with the wax.

Metal appliqué (vasalt, patkolt tojás) is a unique Hungarian form of egg decorating. Miniature metal ornaments (metal hangers, tools, little horseshoes and spurs) made of lead or wrought iron are fitted to the empty egg shell with pins or small nails of lead. Magyars have always been famous horsemen, so even the eggs are equipped for riding. They are made exclusively by men, mostly skilled machinists or black-smiths.

After Hungary converted to the Roman Catholic form of christianity, some customs changed that pertained to the egg. After a thousand years, the old and the new blend together perfectly. The decorated egg became part of the Christian Easter.

Beside the colorfully painted eggs of the modern era, the old symbols are not forgotten because Hungarian egg-decorating women are stubborn keepers of traditions! Sometimes we cannot recognize the meaning of the abstract designs at first glance, or their meaning is lost forever. However we can feel the magic they radiate and we should value this kind of decoration and should be glad that these incomprehensible, mysterious designs are still used on the eggs, God’s perfect and wonderful creation, as they represent the unchanged mentality of an ancient people.

 

American Hungarian Museum, No. 58, 1998 

Origin of America’s Name

AMERICA HAS A PATRON SAINT,

A FEAST DAY AND

A BAPTISMAL CERTIFICATE

Dr. Sándor Balogh

Saint Imre > Amerigo

America as a continent and the United States of America as a country are unique in that they had been named after a saint.

Everyone knows that America was named after Amerigo Vespucci, but who was Amerigo named after?

Very few people know this; at least, very few Hungarians and Italians know this. I, for one, have never heard Hungarians, particularly Hungarian Catholics, say that they are proud of the fact that America, after Amerigo Vespucci, was named after the Hungarian Saint Imre (Emeric). Therefore, America’s name-day is November 5th, the feast-day of Saint Imre.
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1848 – 1849

1848nemzetor
Borsos József: Nemzetőr – National Guard

1848 – 1849

Revolution and War of Independence

 

Antal Endrey

(1922–2010)

 

RISE UP MAGYAR

By Sándor Petőfi:

 

Rise up, Magyar, the country calls!

It’s ‘now or never’ what fate befalls…

Shall we live as slaves or free men?

That’s the question – choose your ‘Amen’!

God of Hungarians,

we swear unto Thee,

We swear unto Thee – that slaves we shall

no longer be!

 

On March 3, 1848, Kossuth made a long speech in the lower house, demanding representative parliamentary government not only for Hungary but also for the Austrian hereditary provinces. Ten days later, there was a revolution in Vienna itself and Metternich was forced to abdicate.The following day, Kossuth came out with even more concrete proposals for a liberal constitution which were accepted by both houses of parliament. At the same time, the young intellectuals and students of Pest rose in open revolt against Austrian oppression. On March 15, they held a mass meeting in front of the National Museum where they proclaimed their demand in twelve points and the great Hungarian poet Alexander Petőfi recited his fiery poem Talpra magyar (Arise Hungarians) which was immediately thereafter printed and distributed in thousands as a mark of defiance of censorship. The enthusiastic crowd then proceeded to Buda and freed all political prisoners.

The news of the events in Pest made a deep impression on the deputies in Pozsony and they were now unanimous in their demands for liberal reforms. A large parliamentary deputation went to Vienna, and the frightened imperial court agreed to their proposals on the spot. The Hungarian parliament now quickly passed laws for the establishment of parliamentary government, the abolition of all feudal burdens and liberation of the jobbágys, the equality of all citizens before the law, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the union of Hungary with Transylvania, the setting up of a Hungarian national army and all other measures necessary to enable Hungary to function as an independent liberal state. On April 11, the king assented to all these laws and a responsible Hungarian government was appointed with Count Lajos Batthyány as premier and a cabinet comprising the leaders of both factions of parliament.

Having achieved national and individual freedom without bloodshed, Hungarians were now content with their situation and were quite prepared to maintain their ties with the dynasty. The ruling circles of Austria, however, were determined to preserve their dominance over Hungarians and wasted no time in their efforts to reverse the course of events. The means they decided to employ was to set on the Hungarians their national minorities… As early as March 20, the Austrian Minister of the Interior, Count Kollowrat, initiated moves for revoking the liberal reforms of Hungary and two days later, he appointed the fiercely anti-Hungarian Baron Jellasich as bán of Croatia… At the same time, Austrian agents also incited the Serbs in southern Hungary and even instigated the Serbian principality in the Balkans to send in armed “volunteers” to assist a Serbian revolt in Hungary… The Rumanians who at first only had moderate demands, were also persuaded to oppose the union of Transylvania with Hungary and to attack the local Hungarians and attempts were even made to stir up the Slovaks with the help of the Czechs, although these were largely unsuccessful.

These developments came as a deep shock to Hungarians… in order to prevent the complete disintegration of their country, Hungarians took two logical steps… on July 11, they voted to raise 200,000 recruits for the setting up of a Hungarian defense force. Ten days later, they passed an extremely generous law for regulating the position of the national minorities… It was hoped that these measures which were unique in contemporary Europe, would placate the national minorities and help in restoring order in the country. These expectations, however, were in vain. By now, the minorities had worked themselves into an anti-Hungarian frenzy with the encouragement of the imperial court…

Hungarians were quick to realize that all their troubles with their minorities had been orchestrated in Vienna and relations with Austria deteriorated rapidly. On its part, the imperial court made no secret of its intentions to revoke the reforms granted in April and to place Hungary under imperial administration again… Batthyány and Deák went to Vienna to mediate. The emperor, however, refused to receive them and members of the imperial government also turned them away. A showdown with the Habsburg Empire was now inevitable.

On September 11, the imperial government gave Jellasich his marching orders and the bán invaded Hungary with a Croatian army. The declared purpose of this unprovoked attack was to terminate liberal rule in Hungary. Jellasich headed immediately towards Pest but a hastily organized Hungarian force, consisting mainly of young recruits, routed him and forced him to seek refuge in Vienna… the Hungarian parliament appointed a Home Defense Committee under the chairmanship of Kossuth to attend to the defense of Hungary. The Hungarian War of Independence began.

On October 3, the imperial government declared martial law in Hungary and appointed Jellasich commander-in-chief. Three days later, however, another liberal revolt broke out in Vienna, forcing the imperial court to flee… In November the main imperial army, commanded by Prince  Alfred Windischgraetz invaded Hungary from the west whilst other imperial troops entered from Galicia and Transylvania. In southern Hungary the Serbs went on the attack. The country was truly in flames.

Kossuth now became the apostle of freedom in Hungary. He went from town to town, calling Hungarians to arms with fiery speeches, and the people responded enthusiastically. A huge volunteer army was raised overnight which engaged the Austrians immediately. Although they had very little training and were ill-equipped, these young Hungarian soldiers fought with great courage and caused the imperial army heavy losses…

Since the new Hungarian army had training problems and fresh troops were still being raised, the Hungarian commander, Arthur Görgey, retreated to northern Hungary… On January 1, 1849, the Hungarian parliament also moved to Debrecen to be under the protection of its armies and Windischgraetz entered the capital without resistance. The imperial government was now certain that Hungarians had been completely defeated. On March 4, 1849, Schwarzenberg issued a new imperial constitution which deprived Hungary of all its freedoms and made it a constituent part of the Austrian Empire.

Görgey, however, had used the winter to train and equip his forces and in March 1849, went on the attack. In a brilliant campaign, he scored a number of great victories over Windischgraetz while a Polish general, Joseph Bem (who had joined the Hungarians as a volunteer), cleared Transylvania of imperial forces and Rumanian insurgents. On April 14, the Hungarian parliament at Debrecen declared the independence of Hungary, deposed the House of Habsburg and elected Kossuth as Regent. By the end of May, virtually the whole of the country was again in Hungarian hands.

The emperor Francis Joseph, seeing that his armies were unable to deal with the Hungarians, now sought the assistance of the Czar of Russia, Nicholas I. Fearing that the revolution would spread to Poland, the Czar obliged and sent in 200,000 soldiers under Prince Paskievich. At the same time, a fresh Austrian army of some 170,000 men, commanded by General Haynau, attacked from the west. The Hungarian army which numbered only 150,000 men and was also greatly inferior in artillery, clearly had no chance… Fighting heroically against both emperors, the Hungarian forces retreated to the plains to make a last stand. The end, however, was now near. After a number of fatal reverses, Kossuth resigned on August 12, 1849 and went into exile. The following day, Görgey and his remaining army laid down their arms at Világos before the Russian general Rüdiger. The cause of Hungarian freedom was lost.

“Hungary lies at the feet of Your Majesty”, reported Paskievich to the Czar after Világos but it was the ministers of Francis Joseph who exacted the revenge. The instruments of retribution were the Austrian Premier, Felix von Schwarzenberg, the commander-in-chief, General Haynau, and the Minister of Interior, Alexander Bach. At the instigation of Schwarzenberg, a “cold-blooded vampire” in the words of one of his contemporaries, Francis Joseph appointed Haynau, called “the hyena of Brescia” after his former cruelties in Italy, his plenipotentiary in Hungary, with power to impose the death sentence without prior approval. Haynau had the Premier Batthyány, thirteen Hungarian generals and hundreds of others executed and sent thousands more into dungeons in Austria… For nearly a year, Haynau engaged in a reign of terror in Hungary until he was recalled under the pressure of European public opinion.

 

Source:

Anthony Endrey: Hungarian History Part Three, The Hungarian Institute Melbourne, 

Australia, 1981. Pages 58-63