...gonna kick the darkness 'till it bleeds daylight... musings of a hungarian in texas

©2003 by Annamaria Kovacs. All contents of this blog are the property of the author. Use with written permission only.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

August 20th

I am getting all sloppy here...and it's work! Not supposed to...But anyway--I am reminiscing, because you see, it's August 20th, which is the largest national holiday in my honeland, Hungary, being St. Stephen's Day. King St. Stephen was the founder of the Christian Hungarian kingdom in AD 1000, and always had a special place in every Hungarian's heart, or so I think.
And I used to be be all judgemental about the expats who got teary and sad and depressed around this time of the year...Well...it's just amazing what life can bring. Here I am in the great state of Texas in 100 degree weather, in a sales office, and I wish I'd be up at the top of the Castle Hill in Budapest where the traditional fair is held with all the craftsmen and dancers and performer groups, eating freshly baked bread, looking at pottery and handmade lace and forged goods (yes, usually with at leat one working forge)...MMM...
Granted, it was terribly crowded, and the crowd increasingly became more and more rude as the years went by...but it was still the bestest point of the summer's end. So I was looking at the online reports from it, and I got sloppy for a moment there.

I will also miss the fireworks. See, fireworks used to be real magic when I was a kid. We only had one, I repeat, one fireworks event every year: August 20. Granted, under the communists they called August 20th the "Celebration of the Constitution and the New Bread" ::shudder::, but we still had the 0900pm lightning show over the river Danube, which for long years, due to the lucky location of our apartment, we could watch from our balcony. In later years, the holiday got its original name back, the fireworks became longer and spiffier, and we moved...so the last few ones I'd only seen through boradcasts. Except the one where (was it 1999?) we went out to the banks of the Danube with about a hundred thousand more BUdapestians to see it from there, and got into the biggest trafic jam of the city's history--on foot. We felt from time to time that the crowd would just overwhelm us...there were some really tense moments as everybody tried to go home at the exact same time at the end of the show (go figure...) but then everybody realized that there simply was not enough space. The banks and the small streets that enclose it were NOT designed for crowds. Some friends with a more evil mindset than mine own suggested it was consciously done at the end of the last century by the Habsburgs, wishing to avoid potential places where rebellious Magyars can congregate...and the 40 years of occupation by Russians just reinforced this landscape design.

But at the end we got through the bridge over the Danube and the crowd thinned out. We could walk then, hand in hand, on the strangely quiet streets, under the stretlights, with some folks who were doing just the same...That night was the night of holding hands and being all smiley and happy. it was good.

So that's August 20th for me: crowds, hot weather, loud craftsmen selling beautiful handmade pottery, honeycakes, woodcarvings and traditional felt hats, dancers in their colorful costumes, fireworks over the river cascading down like colored lace on black velvet...and all over it the scent of freshly baked bread, and the memory of harvests and traditions a millennia old.


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