Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Big Celebration

I suppose if I'm meant to be writing about Hungarian things then I can't really leave out St. Stephen's Day. Good old St. Stephen is the big hero for the country, mainly because he got the various tribes together to form the first proper Hungary. He's also the man deemed responsible for bringing Christianity to the country.

Read moreYou can even see a bit of the man himself. Just pop into the basilica (St. Stephen's Basilica of course) and make your way into the wing on the left. There may or may not be signs showing the way to the Szent jobb (Holy right). This is meant to be the actual right hand of the man, encased in a, erm, case and holding a red ribbon. Not bad grip for someone that's been dead for over 1,000 years.

Each year on August 20th the hand is taken outside for a little trip. Sermons are given and everyone gets serious. That is, until the acrobatic planes start flying around the Danube, the concerts start up and everyone (really everyone) masses on the riverside to watch a huge display of fireworks.

The fireworks is what really St. Stephen's day seems to be about nowadays. Every year they get bigger, brighter, louder. Every year the opposition parties complain about how much money the government is wasting on it but then spent more when they get into power. If you're in Hungary on August 20th, it's just something you have to see.

Some pics

Fireworks from Gellert hegy

Fireworks set off from the Chain Bridge.

In front of the castle.

Chain Bridge again.

They just keep coming for a full half hour.

You have to be comfortable with crowds.

This was taken before the crowds came. Notice something? Yes, that's right, there are no cars. For the day, they tow away all the cars from the streets next to the basilica. This time I think they put up the notice late so our car just disappeared. Luckily we knew what was going on from last year and where they tow the car to. A quick hunt around Szabadság tér the next day proved successful and a dodgy driving manouver got it back into the street with no help from the one-way system.


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