Two girls from Hungary and Poland with friendly faces and cameras in our hands. We are planning to go to the four most important events on the 15th of March in Hungary.
Yes, we are going to talk about politics, about the past and the present, about emotions and different attitudes… but most importantly we are going to talk about people and our own experiences. So don’t worry we won’t overwhelm you with heavy politics. We will simply “just look around” hoping that our observations will give you a broad and interesting overview spiced up with our personal stories and feelings about the day.
About 15th of March
The 15th of March is one of the most important national holidays for Hungarian people during each year. What is this day about? How do the Hungarians commemorate this day? And finally, is it more about the history or does it have more to do with the present Hungarian political and social atmosphere? Especially with the upcoming elections can it be said that this year’s commemoration was more of a presidential campaign?
We can point out that a lot of things were going on. Let’s see.
The Peace March
On 15th of March Hungarians officially commemorate the 1848 revolution against the Habsburgs. It is well known that Hungarians are quite proud of their history even or especially because it is very tormented. We are proud to still being able to be here.
This year’s so called “Peace March” was organized by the leading government of Hungary, namely the Prime Minister, Viktor Orban and his party. The last Peace March was held four years ago and it is said that this year the government wanted to demonstrate in support of the Fidesz party before the parliamentary election. Thousands of supporters took part in the mass walk which ended on Kossuth tér (in front of the Parliament) with a little show and the Prime Minister’s speech. It was a very controversial event and even more interesting for us.
I didn’t know what to expect from this national holiday. I had my projection about the 15th March, because I have this kind of holiday in Poland as well several times a year. Naturally, it doesn’t look the same in every country. I believed that although I don’t understand the Hungarian language, I don’t know the history of this country very well, I will be able to feel the atmosphere of this holiday. Fortunately, it was like that.
After the demonstration (2nd Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party Peace March), we are going to the Kossuth Lajos tér, where the event organized by the government takes place. What is a personal surprise for me? The fact that I meet many Poles in the crowd. I can’t believe my eyes when I see a lot of Polish flags. I feel the same, when I realize that we are also next to the journalists from Polish TV station. I feel literally at home for a while. My knowledge of the Hungarian language is… I won’t lie, it does not exist. However, at the beginning of the speech of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, I understand that he mentions Poland several times. He greets the Poles and assures that he appreciates us. There is a stereotype that says that Poles and Hungarians are like brothers. As it turns out, it’s in some part true.
During the celebration, I feel a lot of different emotions. There sometimes are contradictory. I don’t understand anything – neither the recited poem nor the prime minister’s speech. Even so, I watch the people and the banners. Many of them arouse embarrassment and anxiety in me. I disagree with some of them and at the same time I am surprised by others. I feel some happiness together with the citizens of Hungary, who proudly held national flags in their hands and clapped loudly. The crowd is dominated by older people who turn out to be very kind and helpful people. For instance, they give us space so that we can take pictures. When you are a foreigner, you usually don’t identify with any political party or specific politician. On March 15, I try to be a neutral person. However, being in a crowd which has some point of view makes us finally start to feel the same excitement and emotions.
When I look around, many people brought their own banners. I guess that some are directed against the party, others praise its actions. The ones I understand, because they are written in English, arouse for me more emotions. Being a foreigner we can’t forget about our own views and values. That’s the reason why I can’t be neutral all of the time. When it comes to the national holiday, culture and folklore are important elements. This is also the value. That is surprising, I have the opportunity to enjoy wonderful dance performances and listen to Hungarian folklore songs. It is certainly one of these elements that warm up every person. Politics usually divides people, fortunately music and dance chain people together.
We are heading to the ending ceremony of the Peace March by metro. It is crowded as the whole city centre is. After the public transport’s crowd there is a very different mass waiting for us on Kossuth tér. There are families with little children, some young faces and of course a lot of elderly people. To be honest it is much more peaceful than we thought it would be. We go right in the middle of the crowd and we are waiting for the show to start.
When I look around I don’t see happy smiles. The people are all really nice and helpful it is almost like we are in the middle of a family meeting with the most adorable grandparents, but their faces are strict and somehow determined. One can sense that there is a lot of tension, I understand that they think there is much at stake. We sing the songs that every Hungarian know and we recite our national anthem. Everyone is in an elevated state. I try to translate as many things as I can to Aga and I enjoy that nobody understands English around us.
It is a good thing when you are part of a group or a crowd that shares the same thoughts and emotions as you, it makes you feel involved. However my opinion is that we always have to ask ourselves: Can I think outside the box? Can I be critical of my own thoughts and views? Can I listen to others who doesn’t share my opinions?
People can learn the most from the new perspectives, not the ones that they already know and agree with. A good article brings information and a point of view that the readers don’t know about yet. For me going out to the Peace March was a whole new experience. I can say that it was something out of my comfort zone. The aim of my writing was to capture this controversial feeling of being interested and critical at the same time, being surrounded by people I don’t necessarily agree with but still try to understand them.