20th of August: Foundation of Hungary and Saint Stephen´s Day


This video was made by a Hungarian television channel to celebrate the 20th of August in 2005. I like it a lot because one can see an aerial view of the Danube River, Buda Castle and the singer on top of the Chain Bridge! The song is called Magyaroszág that for those who doesn’t know, it is the way the Hungarians (or magyarok) call their country in their all language. This is not the National Anthem of Hungary, but it is a beautiful song about the country and its people.

The August National Holiday is one of the most important here because it celebrates Saint Stephen´s day and also the foundation of the Hungarian State, 1000 years ago. It is a long history to be commemorated!

august20th_festivities_budapestThe celebration is huge, counting on the mass participation of the Hungarians in different events around the country. Budapest´s festivities are the most famous and crowded though.

This time of the year is in my opinion the best to come over for tourism. It is summer, the city and the people are so vibrant and will to outdoor events. Also the tourists can experience local events, most of them open air and for free. Good for all ages and different interests. Sometimes the events are extended to the whole week.

Below I will list some of the events performed in 2012 only for your reference:

  1. Street of Hungarian Flavours – a sort of fair with traditional Hungarian food and drinks. Also there is the Birthday Cake to be tasted by the visitors.
  2. Hungary’s Birthday Cake – the cake is the result of a yearly contest. The participants subscribe their recipes and the National Guild of Hungarian Confectioners chooses the best one to represent the celebration that year. In 2012, the winner was an Apple Poppy Seed Cake from Veszprém.
  3. Concerts and Street Carnival – Popular Hungarian bands made concerts in townholy_right_hand_of_king_stephen_procession_budapest02
  4. State Ceremonies in different places in town, specially at Kossuth Square in front of the Hungarian Parliament and Heroes’ Square
  5. A fantastic air and water show take place over and on the Danube between Elizabeth Bridge and Margaret Bridge. Red Bull sponsored these events generally with Kamikazes flying under the bridges in an high adrenaline attraction
  6. Family Programs on the Danube Bank – Concerts, dance performances and puppet show provide entertainment for the whole family
  7. Festival of Folk Arts – The Festival of Folk Arts in Buda Castle This year the festival was focused on traditional wears and how to make them.hungarian_parliament_open_day_20th_august
  8. Open Day in the Hungarian Parliament – The Parliament building can be visited without preliminary registration, what it is very good. In general the agenda is always overbooked. If I am not wrong, it is for free as well this day.
  9. Blessing of the Bread and Harvest Procession – The blessing of the new bread and a harvest procession that head to Szent István Square in front of the Basilica where the holy mass is held.
  10. Festive Holy Mass and Procession of St. Stephen’s Holy Right Hand – Yes, you read right, the right hand of Saint Stephen is still preserved and stays all year long inside the Basilica. The only time when the Hand is removed is to celebrate the Foundation of Hungary.
  11. Fireworks Show in the evening to close the celebration over the river and Buda Castle, like you can see in the video at the beginning of this post.

Check the video below to feel the energy of the Red Bull airrace!


Who was Saint Stephan? A short history about Hungary

Stephen (István in Hungarian, was born in 969. and died in 1038.) was Hungary’s first king and he laid the foundation of the state by converting the nomad and pagan Magyar people (Hungarians) into Christianity.

Until the end of the 10th century the seven Hungarian tribes often attacked and robbed Western European nations. After a major defeat in 955, the Hungarian leaders decided to give up the raids, focus on settling down and found a strong state.saint stephen

István realized that he can only achieve this by converting Hungarians into the Roman Catholic religion. He received a crown from Pope Sylvester II and became Hungary’s first king in 1000 AD. The Holy Crown has survived the coming centuries and it is now Hungary’s most precious treasure. The Holy Crown is all year long in exhibition at the Budapest Parliament.

King Stephen consolidated his power. He built churches all around the country and invited Catholic priests to help to lay down the foundations of Christianity. István formed new, strict legislations instead of the former pagan rules and took administrative measures to organize the country.

As a result of King Stephen’s efforts Hungary became a strong state and a protector of Western Europe during the Medieval Ages.

Stephen was canonized on 20th of August in 1083 and became the patron of Hungary. For the canonization procedure King Stephen’s remains were exhumed. According to the story his right hand was found as fresh as the day he was buried. The hand was detached and since then everybody can view our first king’s mummified right in St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest .

20th August became Hungary’s national day and stayed that way until 1945, when Communist leaders prohibited celebrations due to the religious nature of the holiday.
In 1990 the Hungarian Parliament declared 20th August national holiday again.

Source: http://www.budapest-tourist-guide.com/20th-August.html

Saint Stephen´s Picture: http://www.worldofstock.com/stock-photos/st-stephen-statue-budapest-hungary/TEE1446


  1. #1 by grazielaa on January 5, 2013 - 9:45 am

    Today I found a Hungarian Photographer called Tamas Boczko. HIs work is beautiful and I found in his website beautiful shootings of Red Bull Air Race in Budapest 2007-2009. It´s worth to check this link:

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