Mayday traditions and events in Hungary
How to celebrate Mayday in Hungary
May 1st is a significant day for several reasons - aside from being a holiday in most parts of the world. This year, because it falls on a Tuesday, May 1 is also the last day of a four-day weekend in Hungary. Hungarian employees get the bridging Monday off, although they did work last Saturday, April 21, to make up for it.
May 1 also traditionally marks the first day of summer and is celebrated with a host of traditional outdoor events. Erecting "May trees" (májusfa), for example, is a European tradition that dates back more than six centuries. May trees - also known as jakabfa (Jacob Trees) and hajnalfa (Dawn Trees) in Transylvania - were mainly made by young men for the girl they liked. They stood the tree in front of the girl's house to let the village know where the object of their affections lived. Because the trees are often stolen, the authorities do not support this tradition.
In the Jászság (between the Danube and Tisza rivers), May trees were usually poplars decorated with colorful paper ribbons. Some suitors may also attach a gift for their sweetheart, such as a bottle of wine. In Palóc territories (Northern Hungary), the man would only erect the tree, leaving it to be decorated by the girl and her mother. In many regions, the trees were "danced out" (kitáncolták) - felled as townsfolk danced to music around it. A new form of the tradition is for young men to send decorated potted plants for women to place on the windowsill.
Traditional Mayday festivals will be held at many of Budapest's most popular public spaces, including the Millenáris Park, Heroes' Square and Vigadó Square. The latter, and a stage on the corner of Andrássy út and Rippl-Rónai utca near Heroes' Square, will host the "Europe Jazz Bride" organized by the Society of Hungarian Jazz Artists (Magyar Jazzművészek Társasága). Free concerts featuring many of Hungary's biggest names in jazz and a host of international stars will continue all day. A detailed run-down of events can be found in English here.
May 1 has been international labor day since the 1880s after the the world's socialist organizations staged events to commemorate violent clashes at protests for the introduction of the eight-hour working day in the US in 1886. The first Budapest labor day procession was staged on May 1, 1890 by the Hungarian General Labor Party (Magyarországi Általános Munkáspárt). After 1945, the first day of May has always been a public holiday, albeit a controversial one. In the Socialist era, citizens were required to participate in processions while children attended school events.
Since 2004, May 1 also marks the day when Hungary - along with 10 other countries - joined the European Union, bringing the total number of EU member states up to 25.
- EU accession anniversary (caboodle.hu, in English)
- Original story (ma.hu, in Hungarian)
- Original story (hirtv.hu, in Hungarian)
- Balassagyarmat Palóc House to reopen in May - 2009-01-15 15:10