National Holidays

Public holidays


1 January - New Year's Day
According to tradition, lentil soup eaten on this day makes people wealthy, rolling out strudel dough guarantees long life, eating poultry will make luck "fly away".

15 March - National Day
Memorial day of the 1848 Revolution (which aimed the independence of the Hungarian Kingdom from the Austrian Empire). There are usually speeches and music pieces (e.g. Nemzeti dal) performed; many people wear a cockade with the national colours (red, white and green).

Moveable - Easter Monday
Men visit women to sprinkle them with perfume (or in the countryside, sometimes water), first asking permission by reciting a verse. In return, the women give the men eggs (sometimes painted, sometimes chocolate). Children receive chocolate eggs (sometimes fruits and nuts, chocolate rabbits), from the Easter Bunny; these gifts are sometimes hidden in the garden or house. (Real rabbits are sometimes gifted.) The day's meal is often ham, eggs, and sweetbreads for dinner.

1 May - Labour day
The countries of the EU are represented with special programmes, bridges are decorated and exhibitions are held. Labour Day coincides with May Day (majális); many attend outdoor festivities in public parks.

20 August - Saint Stephen's Day
Hungary's first king St. Stephen's Day, also the day of the Foundation of Hungary and "the day of the new bread". St. Stephen of Hungary (Szent István király in Hungarian) (ca. 975 – 15 August 1038), as the first king of Hungary, led the country into the Christian church and established the institutions of the kingdom and the church.
Celebrated with a half-hour fireworks display on the bank of the Danube in the evening, which is attended by many people on both river banks and is watched by many from the hills on the Buda side of the river and from the rooftops of both Pest and Buda.

23 October - National Day
Memorial day of the 1956 Revolution (which - inter alia - aimed at the departure of the Soviet troops from Hungary and free elections). Also the day of the proclamation of the Third Hungarian Republic (1989). Celebrated with speeches and exhibitions.

1 November - All Saints Day
Day of remembrance of the dead. Graves in Christian cemeteries are decorated with flowers and candles, by family and friends of the dead.

25 December - Christmas
The Hungarian Heritage Foundation of the San Francisco Bay Area promotes, shares and educates the public about Hungarian culture, language and art.

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Szilvia Gilbert