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Aug 17, 2019 - Zoltán Kovács

August 20th traditions to keep an eye out for

The celebrations will honor a more than 1,000-year-old state that protects not only its own identity and culture but also the culture, borders and identity of Europe.

Ask any Hungarian about the national holiday they look forward to the most, and their answer is bound to be August 20th.

Celebrated since 1683, the holiday marks the anniversary of the founding of the Hungarian state. To commemorate this event, the holiday comprises a wealth of programs observing the most important event to take place in our national history.

Kicking off at 8 in the morning, the Hungarian Air Force will hold day-long presentations showcasing its finest naval, firearms, chemical and air force units. 2019 marks the 170th anniversary of the founding of the Hungarian military, and attendants can be sure to expect an impressive display.

The day-long gathering at Kossuth Square will officially begin at 8:30 with the raising of the Hungarian flag, followed by speeches by the Minister of Defense, Tibor Benkő and the President of Hungary, János Áder. The induction of military cadets will take place shortly afterwards, just before the debut of the song commissioned specifically for this occasion, titled “Respect for Stephen I of Hungary”.

Other popular events held in the capital include an all-day street food festival, the Street of Hungarian Flavors (Magyar Ízek Utcája) near Clark Ádám Square, free entrance to the Parliament building throughout the day, and the annual Holy Mass, complete with a festive procession featuring Saint Stephen’s right hand, which is also known as the Holy Dexter.

Passersby are also invited to try out some of the finest Hungarian delicacies. Held since the early 2010s, the Cake of Hungary competition invites bakers and confectioners across Hungary to compete for the prestigious title that recognizes the dessert with the most-complex flavor, subtle textures and most-exquisite composition. This year’s winner, a raspberry cake called “Boldogasszony Csipkéje”, and its sugar-free counterpart “Kicsi Gesztenye” (Little Chestnut) have already rose to popularity throughout the country.

The celebrations will last into the early hours of the night, with the launch of fireworks beginning at 9 in the evening. The frenzied show is among the most anticipated events of the day, with thousands gathering on the Danube embankments to catch sight of the spectacle. With more than twenty thousand pyrotechnical effects fired up from nine locations, the firework display will cover both sides of the Danube between Erzsébet Bridge and Garibaldi street.

Just like in previous years, people with disabilities will get to enjoy the show from a special area on Kossuth Square, in front of the Parliament building. While the holiday revolves around the celebrations, all necessary security precautions have been taken to ensure the safety of Hungarian families attending the events.