World Complexity Science Academy


Edit Fabo 1*

1 Author affiliation: Institute for Hungarian Studies, Budapest, Hungary

* Correspondent author: Edit Fabo –


Article information:
Volume 2, issue 2
Received: 22. 3. 2021; Accepted: 1. 7. 2021; Published: 25. 9. 2021

DOI: 10.46473/WCSAJ27240606/20-09-2021-0008//full/html
Category: Research paper


Research into the history of memory has been launched at the Institute for Hungarian Studies, which sheds new light on the age of the thoroughly explored Hungarian dualism (Dual Monarchy (1867–1918)). Contemporary public thinking is primarily reflected in the press columns, so the study covered major political and cultural newspapers spanning the era. The content sought can be linked to two notable historical events: the 1848 Revolution Memorial Day on the 15th of March, and the other is Saint Stephen’s Day on the 20th of August. While the anniversary of the 20th of August was celebrated within a sacral framework based on centuries-old traditions, the commemorations of the 15th of March were organised from below in smaller civic and university student circles, friend groups. They had only one and a half decades of (illegal, forbidden) history. As a result, participants were able to identify with the values, virtues, and ideas that they regarded as noble, glorious and with which they could engage, creating a shared experience of togetherness. During the festive occasions, the dignity of man, faith and history could be expressed, and the sense of identity that formed the basis of future orientation strengthened. Keywords: national holiday, identity, Hungary, history, future

1. Introduction

The period of Hungarian history falling into the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy popularly called dualism, or “happy times of peace”, is thoroughly researched. The mentioned period is also special because it was then that the institutional system, society and economy of the so-called modern – i.e., today’s – state was built. Therefore, it is a real treasure trove for historians, as it abounds in available resources and allows for very detailed examinations. Furthermore, given that much of today’s exciting issues revolve around the concepts of “nation” and “state,” it seemed an interesting challenge to see how these were thought about for nearly fifty years when a state that met today’s criteria emerged. Contemporary public thinking is primarily reflected in the press columns, so the study covered major political and cultural newspapers spanning the era. The content sought can be linked to two notable historical events: 1848 Revolution Memorial Day on the 15th of March, and the other is Saint Stephen’s Day on the 20th of August. The preliminary source accumulation brought the first surprise. As it turned out, both anniversaries were commemorated throughout the period and were considered national holidays, even though the state only ruled about them towards the end of the era. Historical science has also mostly discussed the holidays after the official date, and these details have been omitted from historical works focusing on overarching contexts as they seemed negligible and were eventually forgotten. The memory of the two memorable days represented both statehood and independence, yet they differed from each other in the ways of celebration. While the anniversary of the 20th of August was celebrated within a sacral framework based on centuries-old traditions, the commemorations of the 15th of March were organised from below in smaller civic and university student circles, friend groups. They had only one and a half decades of (illegal, forbidden) history. It is a study of historical, exploratory research, which contains a new element in every detail. For example, it is not well known that the 15th of March and the 20th of August were celebrated. As for the parallel history of the two holidays is a pioneering communication and analysis on the subject. The study gives a holiday story of the two anniversaries between 1867 and 1876 with a descriptive and comparative analysis of contemporary press reports. Because the two anniversaries are remembered can be outlined in a historical, descriptive way, the lessons drawn are included in the summary, and the outlook gives us what the lessons point to for the present and the future.

2. The Anniversaries

Of the two anniversaries, the 20th of August has priority, as it is the oldest holiday, the Memorial Day of Saint Stephen and the founding of the state. The example of the oeuvre of the founder of the state, St. Stephen, played an important role in the survival and trials of Hungary for a thousand years. The essence of the oeuvre of King (Saint) Stephen I from the Árpád dynasty (1000–1038) is that he organised the Hungarian Christian state from a tribal principality in the Carpathian Basin. The county system he established existed until 1949, and the Catholic diocesan system operated until 1993 with minor changes. The thousand-year-old series of written laws of the country begins with his ordinances, and his considerations as a ruler (Admonitions), addressed to his son, have become an eternal moral foundation (Klaniczay, 2002). Committed to his faith, the strong-handed king summarised the driving forces of his actions in ten short chapters. In the first three theses, the primacy of religiosity was formulated, manifested in the good preservation of the apostolic faith, the protective appreciation of the church organisation, and the high priests’ respect. The fourth pass highlighted the appreciation of the chiefs and valiant men. The fifth finding concerns justice and the fairness of the judgment. The sixth suggested accommodating and assisting guests. The seventh thesis praised the role of a council of wise and respectable members. The eighth paragraph made it a prerequisite to follow our predecessors’ example and keep our customs consistently. The ninth recommended regular prayer because of its cleansing and liberating power. The last, tenth thesis drew attention to piety, mercy, and the exercise of other virtues. Over time, perhaps the sixth and eighth of those listed have been cited the most. The former – being a country of many nationalities – because the king also pointed out that the knowledge of the language and culture of others is strong support for the power and the state. Furthermore, the latter was referred to because they saw the key of continuity, survival in the pursuit of following the predecessors. With the further provisions of St. Stephen, i.e. his laws, he completely reorganised the life of the state from the peak of power to the last small village, as – among others – he introduced coinage, paying taxes, settling the inheritance, and requiring every tenth village to build a church. He succeeded in strengthening his power before 1000 with a papal blessing and coronation. His son, Prince Imre, his successor, was overtaken by fate: he became the victim of a hunting accident. The greatest tragedy of the life of the founder of the state was that he had to bury his children, which is why he was unable to continue the birth-right with which Stephen, who had broken the former custom, also took the throne. He fell ill with the family tragedy that also threatened the Kingdom of Hungary with insecurity, and this was when he decided to place the country under the protection of the Virgin Mary. His determination gave him enough strength to make the offering to the Virgin Mother from his sickbed. After completing his last, great deed, he died on Assumption Day on the 15th of August, 1038. With this desperate move, the king raised the female quality of creation to a special place in Christian sacredness in Hungary. Miraculous events surrounded King Stephen before his birth, then in his life and later in his death. Therefore, at King (Saint) Ladislaus’ initiative, Pope Gregory VII consecrated him and his younger son, Prince Imre and Bishop Gellert. The great founding king also became the main patron saint of Hungary. King St. Ladislaus first designated the day of remembrance on the 20th of August, later Andrew II confirmed it in the Golden Bull (1222), then centuries later, in 1771, Queen Maria Theresa declared it a national holiday and reclaimed the monarch’s Holy Dexter from the Dalmatian Ragusa, and placed the relic in Buda. The character of the Holy King was intertwined with the idea of independent Hungarian statehood. After the defeat of the War of Independence of 1848–1849, the celebration was banned during the Habsburg autocracy because it carried the idea of independence. After 1867, and especially after the decision of Trianon in 1920, his spirituality flourished between the two world wars (Zeidler, 2002), and his legacy has been increasingly cherished since the regime change. The other anniversary is relatively “young”, as the historic event was part of the European Revolutionary Wave of 1848. Before that, however, Hungary had not been able to enjoy full independence for centuries, so the revolution of the 15th of March, 1848 and the ensuing War of Independence meant both independence and national existence. The youth of the Opposition Circle, the “Youth of March,” gathered at the Pilvax Café on the morning of the 15th, where the demands for the 12 points were readout. What the Hungarian nation wants. Let there be peace, liberty, and concord. 1. We demand the freedom of the press, the abolition of censorship. 2. Independent Hungarian government in Buda-Pest. 3. Annual national assembly in Pest. 4. Civil and religious equality before the law. 5. National army. 6. Universal and equal taxation. 7. The abolition of socage. 8. Juries and courts based on equal legal representation. 9. National bank. 10. The army must take an oath on the Constitution, send our soldiers home and take foreign soldiers away. 11. Setting free the political prisoners. 12. Union [with Transylvania]. Equality, liberty, brotherhood! The young people visited the university, held a rally in front of the National Museum, where they read out the demands and recited Sándor Petőfi’s poem, Nemzeti dal (National Song), which was printed in a nearby printing house. Then they managed to free Mihály Táncsics, who was imprisoned as the only political prisoner at the time. In the evening, the successful crowd celebrated with the performance of József Katona’s drama, “Bánk bán”, at the National Theater. However, the results achieved were far from being peacefully defended. Moreover, later they had to be defended armed. The process of transforming European states’ social and economic system became stronger with the idealisation and the demand for “liberty, equality, brotherhood” (Hobsbawm, 2004; Brubaker and Feischmidt, 2002), which became the starting point for further conflicts. The enforcement of laws for the nations encountered significant obstacles, as countries were not organised on a linguistic or ethnic basis. The Hungarians belonged to the state-building nations for several centuries, they had an advantage over the nationalities awakening to self-awareness at that time, and they should have regained their independence “only”, which has been proven in history. The struggle was made more difficult by the aspirations for independence of the other nations living with them, which the Habsburg and French secret services largely supported. Austria could not defeat the Hungarian war of independence on its own. It had to ask for Russia’s help. The Austrian Empire brutally retaliated against the independence movement that led to the wartime situation: it used executions, imprisonment, and a ban on assembly. The deterrent Habsburg dictatorship system barely yielded. The victims of the blood-stricken revolution and the war of independence became heroes in the eyes of contemporaries and immediate posterity. Their perseverance and commitment to the idea and goal have become role models. The year 1860 provided a sad addition to the custodians of the revolutionary heritage, as the memory of the heroic exhibition lived vividly, especially among young university students. The authorities were informed about the commemoration in the capital on the 15th of March, which they were organising, and they tried to break it up with armed forces. In the crowd seen as protesters, six were wounded. Among them, young man Géza Forinyák was so badly injured by a shot that hit his knee that he died 19 days later. Nevertheless, the law student was elevated to the ranks of heroes revered by grace in remembrance of the celebration of freedom. On the 15th of March, the cemetery marches in the capital after the compromise. They also made pilgrimages to his grave, gave speeches, and placed wreaths. After that, during the year 1860, the power sought to loosen the hitherto austerity, so St. Stephen’s Day on the 20th of August was allowed. The event was organised centrally: discounted trains were launched, and a program booklet describing the holiday was published. However, the ceremony expanded into a national movement, which led to its ban again.

3.1. Commemorations During the Construction of the New State Order

From the beginning of 1867, the measures taken to restore the country’s constitutional order were accelerated. The Prime Minister of the first Hungarian government, Count Gyula Andrássy, who also went through emigration, was appointed by the ruler on the 17th of February 1867, ending the era of bans that severely restricted public life. Nearly a month later, he also visited Pest and Buda in-person to prepare the laws. The arrival of Franz Joseph I on the 12th of March was accompanied by a dazzling series of ceremonies that completely retuned the memory of the 15th of March. During dualism, commemorations of the 1848 anniversary were usually organised from below in smaller civic and university student circles, friend groups. In contemporary newspapers, the recall of the events of March was accompanied by the revival of press freedom, the memory of Petőfi, and the issue of helping former freedom fighters. The editorial offices, which regained the space of 1848, reported with moderation about the movements that had been banned until then. The previous ban eased into a status of tolerance. It was mostly the case for the newspapers involved in the study and spanning the period, especially in the initially pro-government, later separated, conservative Pesti Napló (Diary of Pest). The opposition and liberal A Hon (The Homeland) have already boldly reported on those nurturing the memory of the 15th of March. The 1848-minded Magyar Újság (Hungarian Newspaper) and its successor, Egyetértés (Agreement), clearly in opposition, reported on the commemorations whenever it could. The “public culture” papers, such as Fővárosi Lapok (Metropolitan Papers) and Vasárnapi Ujság (Sunday Journal), also gave way to heroic times with due praise. The year of the compromise brought an end to the repression of the years after 1849. The reports saw the developments in political life as the fruit of the revolutionary day. On the eve of the special anniversary, a torchlight procession from Buda to Pest was held at the royal castle, where they cheered the ruler and sang the Himnusz (Anthem) and the Szózat (Appeal). Journalists in the capital organised a large gala dinner on the occasion of the recovery of the freedom of the press. The editorial offices favoured the retirement of the 1848 soldiers and the erection of the Petőfi statue. It is a remarkable circumstance of the August 20s after the compromise that the birthday of King Franz Joseph I of Habsburg also fell on the 18th of this month, which was commemorated in the Monarchy, including Hungary, but the two holidays did not blend. On the contrary, both days had a separate order. The mundaneness and “neutrality” of a single intervening day – according to press releases – played a role in separating the holidays. The memorable day began in the morning with the procession of the Holy Dexter, which took place in the area of the Buda Castle: it started from the Zsigmond Chapel, continued to the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and returned from there. The procession was marched in the order specified by the clergy, dignitaries, mayors, clerks, and other prelates regardless of denominational affiliation. At the end of the ceremony, the Holy Dexter was lifted and taken back to the castle church, and the event ended with Te Deum (Gábor, 1928). At the end of the ceremony, the attendees participating in the festive indulgence went to the many places and excursions that offered attractions, amusements and recreation. They were already waiting for the guests in Buda and Pest, where Margaret Island and the City Park were popular destinations. Thus, the acceptance of the holiday in the press gradually developed. Looking at the newspapers, it seems that at this time, the standpoints of the editors regarding the 20th of August reports were still unclear or uncertain. Just before the celebration, A Hon (The Homeland) published two advertisements on the occasion of Saint Stephen’s Day for travellers to Pest and Buda about the schedule of discounted trains, and then a letter about the Saint Stephen’s Day gathering in Paris instead of domestic reports. On the other hand, the Pesti Napló (Diary of Pest) only briefly informed the general public that the commemoration took place with great interest “as usual”: cannons rang, military music was played, the abbey canons of Esztergom gave the church sermon, and the composer himself played the church music. However, the Vasárnapi Ujság (Sunday Journal) published detailed coverage. Public life was significantly defined by the open letter opposing the compromise of the former governor, Lajos Kossuth, who lived in emigration. The letter was published in the Magyar Újság (Hungarian Newspaper) in May 1867. The editor-in-chief of the newspaper, László Böszörményi, was arrested and convicted for this, and he died in 1869 during his imprisonment. Therefore, for years after his death, he was mentioned as a martyr of the freedom of the press, and his grave was also crowned on the 15th of March. Furthermore, Lajos Kossuth, who proposed the Danubian Confederation to resolve ethnic differences years earlier, in 1862, became the living custodian of national independence. In 1868, the 20th anniversary of the 15th of March revolution fell on Flower Sunday. Because of the heavily divided public mood, torch music was banned, and civilian circles concerned with politics cancelled the commemorations. Subsequent press reports, on the other hand, showed that not only those living in Parisian emigration, but also various groups of Hungarian patriots marched to the local soldiers’ graves, placed wreaths, gave speeches, sang the Himnusz (Anthem) and the Szózat (Appeal), and then gathered in an inn. The speakers brought up 1848, national freedom, said toasts and sent a welcome telegram to Lajos Kossuth in Turin. Thus, the scenario of annually recurring celebrations began to take shape. Furthermore, while political newspapers only tangentially covered the anniversary, the literary papers revived the glorious day in detail and urged fundraising for the Petőfi statue and helping former soldiers. Regarding the commemoration of Saint Stephen, the press was more communicative in 1868. Two major events came to the forefront in connection with the coverage of Saint Stephen’s Day: one was the park celebration in the Imperial Baths, and the other was a charity performance at the National Theater. In addition, attention was drawn to the discounted railway schedule, entertainment options, and the more important details of the celebration ceremony. They then reported on the course of the ceremony, which was “as befits this national and religious holiday”. Later, they reported on the postponed programs due to deteriorating weather and events abroad.

3.2. Holidays After the Elections

Covering the 15th of March up and deriving dormant emotions might have played a role in the choice of date for the first elections after the compromise on the 18th of March, 1869. Nevertheless, the results strengthened the previous governing forces, and the building of the institutional system could continue. The political and public education press largely ignored the memory of the revolutionary day. The A Hon (The Homeland) indeed evoked the spirit of the fateful day on the front page, and in the short news, it was hinted that “many have paid their respects at the holy graves” despite the bad weather. However, the focus was more on the once-released political prisoner, Mihály Táncsics, because he could not pay the deposit needed to start the paper in one amount. Furthermore, the literary papers were proud of the achievements of freedom of the press. However, their comments were explained by the fate of their fellow journalist, as the illness of László Böszörményi, the editor-in-chief serving his prison sentence, became graver by the day, and he was dead by the end of the month. The political papers of 1869 were short-spoken regarding the Holiday of Saint Stephen on the 20th of August as well. However, the literary press dealt with the ceremony, procession, visitors, and attractions in detailand reported on the ceremony in Vienna. In 1870, the emphasis was on the retirement and asylum of the former soldiers of 1848–49, on the general solution for these problems and donations. The press had dealt with the matter beforehand but still did with special attention. The compromise was based on the laws of 1848, so in principle, the soldiers of 1848 would also have been entitled to state care –pension. However, the government refused to give it to them and proposed private donations instead. Right before the anniversary of the 15th of March, the public welcomed the decision with mixed emotions, as it severely insulted the honour and esteem of the glorified event and completely overshadowed the celebration. The bitter critique was mainly voiced in the opposition press, which sought independence. Literary newspapers, without any signs of outrage, preferred to focus on charity events and the cult of former heroes to retune frustration and public opinion. However, according to the news, many capital residents still made the pilgrimage to the heroes’ graves and held a solemn gathering. In 1870, the end of August was expected to be eventful, as the main event of a new, large-scale initiative, the national “Song Festival”, was scheduled for the 20th of August. However, the weather favoured Saint Stephen’s Day, as the ceremony and procession could take place in the morning, but all the other programs had to be postponed due to the storm’s destruction arriving around midday. Political newspapers reported on discounted rail services and the Saint Stephen’s Day celebration. The literary press took a greater part in celebrating statehood by publishing a longer essay on the great king, his relics, his crown and reported on the commemorations in other parts of the Monarchy. Helping elderly soldiers has become a constant issue, and almost all editorial offices have joined various charitable fundraisers. The ambiguous decision made about them in 1871 was still fresh and significantly impacted the 15th of March celebrations. The pro-government press wrote about the royal couple in the capital at the time, highlighting (Franz Joseph’s wife) Queen Elizabeth’s sympathy for the Hungarians. However, opposition papers, acting as the nation’s conscience, reported on the unearthing and collection of memorabilia and rural events: they evoked the glorious day, the inner turmoil of commemorators, and the ideological commitment in writings filled with pathos. Participants visited the soldiers’ graves, giving speeches, placing wreaths, reciting, and singing patriotic songs. Literary papers focused on the history of the revolution and the war of independence: they recalled a victorious battle, wrote about the retrieval and collection of memorabilia, and advocated the erection of monuments. At the end of the summer of 1871, the weather was also gracious in memory of the first king. Newspapers usually dealt vigorously with Saint Stephen’s Day: they were informed about the discounted railway schedule and the related attractions. Later, they reported on the crowds coming from the countryside; the flagged capital; the ceremony’s main moments, the churchmen leading the ceremony; the speeches; the various festivities; and the celebrations inside and outside Monarchy. Commemorative festivities usually began with morning worship, followed by programs or dancing in the evening, during which the Himnusz (Anthem) and the Szózat (Appeal) were sung. The second election took place the following summer in 1872, but the election law was tightened in the spring before that. The pro-government press, citing the spirit of the 15th of March, 1848, defended the amendment of the law, while opposition newspapers launched an attack on that very basis. Along with the writings battling each other, critical newspapers covered the celebration of the Swiss Hungarians, the festive evening of the pro-independence society in the capital, and the rural commemorations. The celebrants usually visited the soldiers’ graves, monuments, placed wreaths, gave speeches, recited the Nemzeti dal (National Song), sang the Szózat (Appeal), and finally greeted Kossuth by telegram. Thus, the memory of Revolutionary Day was given a more modest place in the literary press than in previous years. After the ruling party’s victory, at the end of the summer, articles appeared in the press referring to the beginning of a new political era, the legitimacy of which was traced back to the roots of Saint Stephen. Readers were not only reminded of St. Stephen’s Day by the usually discounted railway schedule invitations, but other ecclesiastical, political debates also recalled the special rights of the apostolic king, whose origins are tied to the great king. Furthermore, the opposition press likened contemporary leading politicians – the “founders” of dualistic Hungary – to the founding kings who revived the country. Political newspapers, backed up by statistics, reported on the crowd flocking to the capital, described the course of the ceremony and reported on related entertainment attractions. Literary papers also covered the message of the sermon: love and the preservation of the Christian spirit. Of course, the news did not miss the ceremony in Vienna either. In 1873, the 15th of March reached its 25th anniversary, which revived its fading memory: it encouraged contemporaries to face and analyse past events. The newspapers recalled the event and its characters in detail. Opposition papers, of course, made better use of the opportunity to articulate their ideological commitment. Law students and technical students from the capital visited heroes’ graves, and pro-independence politicians held a celebratory commemoration across the country. Correspondents’ reports from the countryside testified of lively anniversary gatherings. The circle was further expanded by news about the celebrations of the Hungarians in New York, London and Zurich. The scenario for the movements was similar: the graves of the heroes were wreathed, they gave speeches, recited the Nemzeti dal (National Song), sang the Himnusz (Anthem) and the Szózat (Appeal), and then the commemorators met again in the afternoon or evening in a more relaxed atmosphere – dinner or ball, where the speeches, the recitations, the Himnusz (Anthem) and the Szózat (Appeal) could be heard again. The celebrants also greeted each other, sent a telegram to each other, not only to Lajos Kossuth. The editorial offices consistently encouraged their readers to collect for the soldiers’ asylum and the Petőfi statue. The end of 1873 was made exciting by the open meeting organised to establish an independent Hungarian national bank, but attention soon turned to Saint Stephen’s Day. The announcements about moderate fare trains were published in time. The newspapers covered the celebration of Saint Stephen, which attracted a crowd of people. A Hon (The Homeland), as an opposition paper, noted in connection with the sermon that in the future, it would be more worthwhile to emphasise the role of the great king as the founder of the state and to disregard his ecclesiastical character; and expressed outrage at the fact that there was no sign of the glorious day in the Parliament building. Readers learned about the ceremony in the crowded Capuchin church in Vienna and other festivities in the Monarchy and abroad. The revitalisation of the revolutionary memory in 1874 was contributed to by the rearrangement of political life, which proved to be even stronger on the opposition side. The starting point of the main contemporary party goals was the attitude towards the 1848 Revolution and the 1867 Compromise, so the political self-interpretations they wished to renew became central issues. Meanwhile, the commemorations of the 15th of March organised from below became more and more open, supported on the one hand by party movements and on the other, by the fact that ideas that were once considered revolting were no longer so subversive. Since then, they have integrated into the (noble or condemned) ideological, political bargains that make everyday life possible. However, the power was still afraid of possible disruption. Regardless of party sympathy, political and literary newspapers often and exhaustively addressed the legacy of the 15th of March. Each forum was in favour of different public movements. The pro-government Pesti Napló (Diary of Pest), for example, praised the university’s youth in the capital for expressing their patriotism at the graves of heroes, despite the harsh weather and the rector’s ban. Opposition papers were flooded with letters of rural celebrations that were selected from even smaller county newspapers. The commemorations were organised in a similar way to previous years. Literary papers even provided space for the cult’s expansion, i.e. they advertised the purchase of the birthplace of the revolutionary poet, Sándor Petőfi. Announcements about fundraisers for the benefit of the Hungarian soldiers and other monuments have become more prominent. In August 1874, it was possible to read more and more extensively about the holiday of Saint Stephen. It became common to have the revival and justification of the holiday and the related historical tradition the starting point of political debates and editorials. There were hardly any announcements about the discounted trains, yet crowds came to Budapest. The papers published their positive thoughts on “the exercise of patriotic virtues and respect for the law”; national unity, experience from the nation’s past, and faith in its future. The point of the sermon was also the preservation of the state and the laws. The procession and the amusements that followed were met with great interest. The events were added to by the inauguration of the new theatre in the former royal coronation city of Székesfehérvár on the 20th of August, with a play by József Katona entitled Bánk bán, which was the play that was also performed on the evening of the 15th of March, 1848. The elite of the capital’s intellectual life travelled there to see the theatrical performance, and of course, the report on it was published in one of the leading opposition newspapers. Other rural towns held Saint Stephen’s ceremonies as well. The literary press also reported on the ceremony, the sights, and the fun memorial festivities in the spa towns. By the year 1875, those in power in the political rearrangement had succeeded in regrouping significant forces from the opposition under the slogan of liberalism. The change also impacted the press, as one of the important opposition newspapers (A Hon – The Homeland) became pro-government. The pro-independence editorial offices also rearranged their ranks to unite the remaining forces: they launched a new paper (Agreement). From then on, the declared commitment of the public figures was fundamentally determined by the attitude towards 1848 and the compromise. The campaign of the upcoming summer elections only increased the interest in the memory of the 15th of March, and everyone tried to appropriate and interpret the heritage of the revolution from their point of view. So on the anniversary, the pro-government paper tried to refer to 1848: the Pesti Napló (Diary of Pest) saw the achievements so far as the fulfilment of the former patriots’ actions and quoted the self-confident opinion of the celebrating youth that the homeland was facing a beautiful and happy future. After its turn, the A Hon (The Homeland) changed the original 12 points of March into a program of “liberalism” and welcomed the celebration of the revolutionary day because it united Hungarian patriots who loved their homeland in a liberal spirit. On the other hand, the Egyetértés (Agreement), paying special attention to independence, bitterly assessed the political life’s gaslighting. The public’s conscience confronted the co-papers with their solemn addresses of the 15th of March in previous years and called for earlier views in the party leadership. Political papers encouraged their readers to raise money for helping the patriots and for the settings of monuments and reported in detail on the celebrations, of which they received so many letters that due to lack of space, their publishing lasted until the end of the month. One of the literary newspapers (Fővárosi Lapok – Metropolitan Papers) also reported on the commemorations, yet with a preference for charitable movements. The other literary press (Vasárnapi Ujság – Sunday Journal) covered the celebration briefly and retrospectively.

3.3. Holidays at the Beginning of Liberalism

The parliamentary elections of 1875 ended before Saint Stephen’s Day. In the new “liberal” government, the former supporters of the compromise have merged with a compromise-seeking majority of pro-independence ones. As a result, they had a decisive superiority in Parliament, and the leadership practice was formed by the end of that year, which survived until 1890. At the end of the summer, the news of the discounted trains prepared the audience to celebrate Saint Stephen’s Day and the invitations to various related, entertaining events. On the title page of the morning issue of the Pesti Napló (Diary of Pest), the writer missed a statue commemorating King Saint Stephen in its historicising style. Instead, it highlighted the warning from the sermon of the ceremony that the truth of Christianity has stood the test of time and that modern science is to blame for the spread of religionlessness, which easily steps over “authority, family, property”. The editorial of the festive issue (The Homeland) called everyone for (patriotic) national cooperation on the pretext of the historic day and then described in detail the ceremony, the procession, and the colourful cavalcade of the spectators. The Egyetértés (Agreement) reported similarly. The Fővárosi Lapok (Metropolitan Papers) contributed to historical knowledge by presenting the tribal relations of the conquerors, the role of King Stephen in founding the state and church history, the history of Hungarian Christianity, and the relic cult; and by reporting on the rural and Viennese commemorations. The Vasárnapi Ujság (Sunday Journal) joined in on the reports on Stephen’s Day only after the holiday, summarising the events. At the end of 1875, the new leadership of the country terminated the so-called “economic compromise” of 1867, which could have been, in principle, renewed every ten years. They wanted to achieve more favourable conditions in the negotiations starting next year. In addition, the development of a more centralised, modern administration restricting local government rights has begun. In the A Hon (The Homeland), interest in the revolutionary past and the revolutionary day subsided significantly because realising the former goals seemed imminent. As a well-informed newspaper close to the government, it trusted the new leadership and the success of the efforts to change the conditions of the economic compromise. In its the 15th of March editorial, in the spirit of the glorious time, it asked for public confidence and support for the government’s goals, and reported on the university student’s celebration on the “big national awakening day”; the March to the cemetery with the national flag; the main ideas of the speeches; and the singing of the Himnusz (Anthem) and the Szózat (Appeal). The Pesti Napló (Diary of Pest), which strived for objectivity, generally showed a low-key interest in the commemorations of the 15th of March. Nevertheless, ignoring his correspondents, this time, it reported on the opposition’s feast at the Hungária Hotel and the compliments given in the toast, referring to the Egyetértés (Agreement). As optimistic as A Hon (The Homeland) was, so gloomy was the present and the future for Egyetértés (Agreement). The latter was advocating for full national independence. The desperate press seized every opportunity to uphold the idea of independent national existence. Therefore, similar to the practice of the previous year, it not only reported on the commemorations of the capital but also gave wide scope for positive news from any part of the country until the end of the month. In addition, of course, it kept the issue of elderly soldiers on the agenda, which was also supported by literary papers. In addition to the festive reports, the latter helped deepen the cult by evoking the people’s past, places, and objects representing the idea. The commemoration followed the established habit, i.e. the participants praised each other and the characters of the heroic past at cheerful social gatherings after paying their respects. The festivities of St. Stephen in 1876 became more colourful, with several movements organised for the historic anniversary. The most spectacular of these was the National Industrial, Crop and Animal Exhibition in Szeged, which was the first major muster of the economic performance of the Hungarian state, which has been heavily industrialised since the compromise. The event can be seen as an upgraded version of indulgences and fairs. One of the Masonic movement centres was handed over, which seemed to be a forward-looking organisation in its objectives, partly organised in the public eye. In addition, the general assembly of the Hungarian Historical Society received a wide response. The event can be seen as an upgraded version of the farewells and fairs. It was then that one of the centres of the Masonic movement was handed over, which seemed to be a forward-looking organisation in its objectives working partly in public. In addition, the general assembly of the Hungarian Historical Society received great attention. There were fewer calls for discounted train tickets compared to previous years, but the Egyetértés (Agreement) promoted a booklet of Saint Stephen’s Day events. Although many people visited the industrial exhibition, Saint Stephen’s Day in the capital still attracted crowds. On the day of the holiday, the Pesti Napló (Diary of Pest), in an almost four-column editorial, enthusiastically praised the state-founding great king’s abilities, talents, and achievements. The reviews of A Hon (The Homeland) on Saint Stephen’s Day rather contained the usual terms only. The festive coverage of the Egyetértés (Agreement) discussed the events in much more detail. In line with the practice of previous years, Fővárosi Lapok (Metropolitan Papers) provided a voluminous and more accurate account of the national holiday and published a promotional article on the history of women’s Freemasonry. Overall, the papers covered the celebrations of Saint Stephen in Budapest, Vienna and other monarchical baths, the Masonic event and the meeting of the Hungarian Historical Society. The esteemed bishop of the first half of the era, Arnold Ipolyi, still dealt with the memory preserved in folk tradition and the image of the past provided by historical sources. His resolution as a historian, presented at a meeting of the Hungarian Historical Society in 1876, was received with the unanimous approval of the pro-government and opposition press. He grouped his thoughts around the principle of a unified political nation-state and the duality of the idea of an ethnically pure nation. In his speech, he argued for the idea of a unified political nation and also put historical science at its service. In his view, the line of historiography should run along with the idea of national political unity and national belonging. Therefore, he continued, ensures the impartiality and objectivity of historiography and that it does not diminish into a server of daily political interests or theories. Looking back at the nation’s history, Arnold Ipolyi stated that its glorious eras did not know the phenomenon of ethnic or religious divisions or anti-nationalism. The greatness of the Hungarians lies in the freedom of the people living in the country from the very beginning, that is, since Saint Stephen’s foundation of the state. The requirement of political cohesion and state governance raises the question of language, the need for a unified state language. A language becoming the state language is a natural process that can be traced back to public needs, i.e. the result of organic development, to which every nation has a natural right. Legislation, by enshrining Hungarian as the state language, merely sanctifies the situation thus formed. Contrary to the idea of a unified nation-state, based on St. Stephen’s idea that a “monolingual nation is fragile – Ipolyi argues that a unified nation consisting of a multilingual population can also be strong. National unity is not manifested in the purity of race, origin, language or blood. Furthermore, which nationality will ultimately be authoritative of the nation’s communities is determined by historical greatness and cultural and moral superiority. “Neither number nor ancestral origin, nor even wealth […] enables peoples to [create] national existence […] Only moral superiority and a predominance of education, combined with higher viability, are capable of sustaining nations as well as individuals among others”, he summed up. The speech was welcomed by all political newspapers and published in full.

4. Summary

Writings in the press reflected that the celebration of the 15th of March had a sensitive impact on power, public life, the average person, and the editorial staff, but each of them responded to it differently. The power was uncertain about the acceptance of its legitimacy, so it feared the memory of the 15th of March and viewed it as a source of danger. Those political forces that came to government after the 1867 Compromise, based on the laws of 1848, had to be careful to maintain the negotiated relationship with the ruler, while the country’s life also had to be directed and organised. The ideological basis of the initiated social and economic transformation was formulated by the 12 points of 1848 for the public. Nevertheless, in the years following the compromise, the independent press’ deflector and deferent role have become stronger in reviving and keeping revolutionary times on the agenda. At the beginning of the era, the memory of the 15th of March was interpreted as a victory materialising in the present in the political papers, and it came off as an even more complete, fulfilling idea in opposition forums. However, the cultivation of historical memory was more in the hands of public cultural and literary magazines. In the early 1870s, interest in the March holiday and revolutionary times decreased. The press moved on from the deadlock by the quarter-century anniversary of 1873, and the division of roles between editorial offices began to clear. It was mostly the opposition political papers that dealt with the celebration, accompanied by daily political overtones, and the literary and public cultural newspapers gave space for the literature of personally lived historical memory and material respect. The press considered the anniversary day a national holiday, regardless of political commitment, as they could mention it in contemporary public discourse. No matter how retaliatory Habsburg absolutism was, it could not yet take away the greatness of the revolutionary act and the dignity of remembrance and heroes. After the compromise, the scenarios of the events organised from below, which included visiting soldiers’ graves, wreathing, listening to speeches, chanting the Himnusz (Anthem) and the Szózat (Appeal), and social gatherings that brought each other and ideas together, gradually took on an increasingly open form. The highlight of the events was the sending of a welcome telegram to Kossuth in Turin. With the togetherness after the celebrations, grief turned to rejoice. They summoned the past, but they spoke to live. All this was done with the liberating satisfaction and even hope that – although the “Youth of March” were defeated – the fire and enthusiasm of the idea still lived in them, in the commemorators. Furthermore, with this experience, they could continue everyday life, in which it might be easier to find the ideal world. The 15th of March was celebrated as a holiday of national existence, freedom of the press and youth. At the beginning of their career, path-seeking youth was always more receptive to exalted, universal ideas beyond self-interest. Teaching is the job of the older generation(s) and history. The commemorations must have had great power if they were held voluntarily year after year. One of the best-known figures of historical example in Hungary is Saint Stephen. According to press sources, it is most clear that Saint Stephen’s Day attracted crowds, which was a very popular community holiday. The order of the movements followed the general pattern of celebrations, that is, the ceremony of identifying with the idealised values, the exalted sacrifice made for them, was concluded by much more relaxed, cheerful social events. While after the Compromise of 1867, at the beginning of the period, political dailies’ attitudes were distant towards the holiday of Saint Stephen, the public cultural or literary press tended to embrace and cherish the tradition of commemoration. By the 1870s, however, the rate and extent of the willingness of political forums to communicate were slowly changing, with the ceremony being reported in greater length and more often. The big turning point was the third parliamentary election, 1875 when a new spiritual, liberal trend emerged. In nearly a year, profound rearrangements occurred, and a Masonic movement announcing new, forward-looking goals to the public also surfaced. As a result, political dailies increasingly accepted the celebration of Saint Stephen, which also symbolised Hungarian history, while the public cultural and literary press became receptive to the novelty. Furthermore, regardless of or beyond commitments, political papers were able to identify with a unified national and cultural commitment rooted in the past. As a result, the popularity of the holiday of Saint Stephen continued to grow, becoming more balanced and receiving more press coverage. The consciousness of origin arising from history lays the foundation for the idea, authority, and dignity that means self-confidence and gives perseverance in difficulties on the way forward. From the great historical events emerges the order of tasks, the aim of which is not only to survive but to preserve a – Christian – morality that serves freedom, dignity and life with helping empathy (Maritain, 2014). The actions of the historical past lived together testify in the long run of a unified community of moral goals or values, which also influences the future direction.

5. Outlook

The onset of globalisation is rooted mainly in European culture, the joint work of many different countries (Spengler, 1994; Huizinga, 1996). However, the global phenomenon has many contradictions, mainly due to differences in cultures – and the interests and strategies that can be derived from them. Space and time are lost in a typically global, technical and timeless globalisation (Barna, 2011, 13; Kovács, 2002, 7). There are two opposing aspirations in the tendency (Schöpflin, 2004), which must be balanced. The decisive forces tend to be unified so that the movements are transparent, controllable, or controlled. On the other, the localities insist on their independence. Science is also looking for answers to the questions posed by globalisation (Rüsen, 2000, 214; Kovács, 2002, 7). One of the basic theses of system science is that a system is functional if it is multicellular, and networks that are too large and complex structures are vulnerable. Interdisciplinarity allows the conclusions drawn from social processes experienced in history to be a guideline. In historical science, Paul Ricoeur gave a more nuanced view of the theoretical approaches to memory history in the second half of the 20th century (White, 1997; Smith, 2000; László, 2003; Assmann, 2018). He argues that “the past is inherently incorporated into the present” (Ricoeur, 1999, 54), so the research assumes locality as a unit analogous to globalism: it turns to an example of identity history. As an experimentally proven method, the demonstrable procedure can offer theoretical support (Rüsen, 2000, 214) for the approach followed by its predecessors. Moreover, in everyday life, it means “the practical purpose of a community clinging to its past is to organise and orient itself over time and to preserve its identity against the threat of disintegration to which more or less all communities feel exposed” (Carr, 1999, 78). Thus, community or national identity is manifested in the form of hereditary social memory. “Identity is part of the transition between the past and the future… [and as such intellectual] performance synthesises the experience of the past and the expectations of the future into a vision of a comprehensive stream” (Rüsen, 2000, 203). The former Hungarian kingdom in the centre of Europe was a dominant power until the age of colonisation. The legacy of the state’s founder, Saint Stephen, can be traced throughout the history of the last thousand years in Hungary to varying degrees (Szekfű, 1938; Karsai, 1938; Szörényi, 1989; Bene, 2002). Most of the subject-heading of memory can be regarded as constant, from which the leading thinkers and politicians of the given period have emphasised a motif or have been enriched with tasks that meet their needs (Sinkó, 2002; Koller, 2006; Szabó, 2009; Kecskeméti, 2011; Marchut, 2015; Dobos, 2018). The existence of tradition means historical continuity (Gyáni, 2002, 575). In the revolutionary wave of 1848, the country wanted, among other things, to end its many centuries of dependence and pave the way for the elimination of the disadvantages resulting from its backwardness (Vargyas, 1867; Vajda, 1981; Hermann, 1996). However, the repressed revolution achieved its goal in the long run, and after the compromise, a modern liberal state could be established in which the free press also played a decisive role. Articles published in the typical mass production of the modern age and the press already document remembering in the rank of sources written for the general public (Erdész, 2017). The creation of memory is a collective activity, and it is maintained and operated in an organised (church) framework, which influences the place of remembrance, its symbolism, its rite, its set of concepts (Halbwachs, 2018; Gyáni, 2000, 81–84). The personal involvement of the commemorators helps to identify with the values displayed. The analysis of the past unleashes “the unfulfilled promises, intercepted and set back in the historical flow, then the people, nation, cultural unity can work out the open and lively meaning of their traditions for themselves. In addition, the incompleteness of the past, for its part, can once again feed the essential expectations that will turn historical consciousness back into the future” (Ricoeur, 1999, 63). Before, during and after the compromise negotiations, the plan of the Danubian Confederation with nationalities was raised as an alternative for the future. The possibility arose later, in 1918, but was pushed into the background due to the nationalities’ internationally supported (mainly economic) independence aspirations. However, today it seems that the recognised economic necessities drive the countries of the Visegrád Four to a common unit of interest. At the same time, the European Union that triggered this closer cooperation, for the time being, is an economic and political organisation in which there is no agreement on the future. In current issues, the goals of different member states are mixed with the (economic, power) ideas of other international private organisations. The differences appear in the legal reasoning of the debates as uniforming, absolutised moral norms, which, due to their obnoxious diversity, will be systemic or unity-breaking hysterical morality variations (Pasture, 2018). The root of the differences in the conflict of interest between the empire-building (or colonial) view and the approach based mainly on external resources and the concept of a country that remains independent within its borders and maintains its internal resources. In short, for moderation, new chapters in the struggle against immoderation will be opened until an agreement is reached on the future’s way of life that benefits all.


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