ETHNONYMS: Magyarok, Magyars
Identification. Hungarians are the most populous group in the Finno-Ugric Subfamily of the Ural-Altaic people. They are considered to be the descendants of the Magyar tribes that migrated from the Ural mountain region and that settled in the Carpathian Basin during the ninth century. Hungary (Magyarország) was declared a republic (Magyar Köztár-saság) in October 1989.
Location. A landlocked country since 1920, Hungary is bounded on the north by the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic, on the east by Ukraine and Romania, on the west by Austria, and on the south-southwest by Slovenia, Croatia, and Yugoslavia. The country occupies 93,030 square kilometers or 1 percent of the total land area of Europe. It is located between 45°48′ and 48°35′ N, and 16°05′ and 22°58′ E. To the east of the Danube River lies the Great Hungarian Plain (Alföld) with some of the finest agricultural land in the Country. To the west of the river is Transdanubia (Dunántúl). With the exception of low mountains in the north and rolling hills and low mountains in Transdanubia, most of Hungary is flat: 8 percent of its land area lies less than 200 meters above sea level. The country is located in a transitional zone Between maritime and continental climates. Most winters are cold, and the summers are hot. The average annual temperature is 8° C in the north and 12° C in the south.
Demography. In January of 1989 Hungary's population was estimated at 10,590,000 with an ethnic composition of 97.7 percent Magyar, 0.5 percent German, 0.3 percent Slovak, 0.8 percent Gypsy, 0.3 percent Croatian, and 0.4 percent other. The population density averages 114 persons per square kilometer. More than one-fourth of the population is over the age of retirement, which is 55 for women and 60 for men. With a very low birthrate, one of the highest mortality rates in Europe for mature and middle-aged men, and the highest suicide rate in the world, Hungary's population has been decreasing since 1981. Also, in part because of high outmigration from villages, the rural population has declined since World War II. Now 42 percent of the country's population is concentrated in rural settlements, but many Hungarians commute and work in cities. Urban dwellers make up about 58 percent of the population; 20 percent of the total population resides in Budapest, Hungary's capital city.
linguistic Affiliation. All the neighboring cultures belong to the Indo-European Family of languages, but Hungarian is a member of the eastern division, the Ugric Group of the Finno-Ugric Language Family. Hungarian is an agglutinative language, without prepositions and auxiliary words; it is characterized by an extensive use of suffixes. It is written in Latin script with additional letters and diacritical marks. This language is spoken by about 10 million people within Hungary and an additional 5 million distributed around the world. From the 5 million about 3.5 million live in the surrounding countries (Romania, the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic, Yugoslavia, Austria, and Ukraine), while the remaining 1.5 million settled in Canada, the United States, and elsewhere. Hungarian is distantly related to Estonian and Finnish.
History and Cultural Relations
The tribal Magyars, Uralo-Altaic nomadic people by origin, entered the Carpathian Basin in 896, led by Arpad, their chieftain. After several military campaigns into western Europe and the Balkans, the Hungarian state was established in 1000 under King Stephen I, who accepted Christianity for the country. This conversion was confirmed by Pope Sylvester II, who symbolized with a gift of a crown Hungary's entry into the European feudal community. The Latin alphabet was introduced, but the original runic script (rovásîrcás ) was used for centuries. In the early twelfth century King Coloman "the Scholar" abolished witch hunts and updated all previous laws governing the country's affairs. King Bela III in 1180 ordered record keeping for all official business. A century later, in 1222 King Andreas II issued "the Golden Bull" (Aranybulla), a code that specified both the nation's rights and the king's obligation to uphold the country's laws. A more representative parliamentary system was introduced in 1384. In the thirteenth century Hungary was invaded by Tartars, reducing the population to one-tenth of its former size. After Turks invaded the Balkans, János Hunyadi and Fr. Capistrano won a decisive victory in 1456 at Nándorfehérvár (now Belgrade, Yugoslavia). Christian church bells tolling daily at noon still commemorate this victory. During his reign between 1458 and 1490 Matthias Corvinus, the son of János Hunyadi, built up both the economy and a powerful nation-state, while he introduced the culture of the Renaissance. At that time, the population of Hungary equaled that of England and France (4 million people). After Matthias's death, however, there came a period of feudal anarchy and, for the serfs, destitution and oppression. A peasant revolt in 1514 was crushed by the Magyar nobility. After the peasant war still heavier burdens were imposed on the serfs. Ottoman Turks defeated the weakened country in 1526 at Mohács and occupied the Central plains of Hungary for 156 years. Hungary's western and northern regions were ruled by the Austrian Habsburgs. The eastern zone and Transylvania became a semi-independent principality. Thousands of Serbs, Romanians, and others fled from the Turkish-occupied Balkans to this principality. In 1557 the Diet of Torda, Transylvania, enacted a law proclaiming freedom of religion. Finally, in the late 1600s Habsburg forces drove the Turks out of Hungary. Then the Habsburgs took control, reunited the country, and settled thousands of Germans in depopulated areas. Led by Ferenc Rákóczi, Hungarians rose in 1703 against Habsburg colonization but were defeated, with Russian intervention, in 1711. Reform movements culminated in another attempt to obtain freedom in the revolt of 1848-1849, led by Lajos Kossuth, which was ultimately crushed by the Habsburgs with the aid of the Russian czar. War-weakened Austria compromised in 1867. The dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary was established with internally independent Hungary sharing common external services and military. Defeated with the other central powers during World War I, Hungary was forced to sign the Treaty of Trianon at Versailles in 1920. This treaty compelled Hungary to cede 68 percent of its land and 58 percent of its population: Transylvania and Bánát to Romania, Slovakia and Carpatho-Ruthenia to Czechoslovakia, Croatia and Bácska to Yugoslavia, Port Fiume to Italy, and the western part of the country to equally defeated Austria. After the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy, Hungary first became a republic in 1918. Then for 131 days in 1919 it had a Communist government, and in 1920 it became and remained for the entire interwar period a constitutional monarchy with Admiral Nicholas Horthy as regent. After regaining some lost territories between 1937 and 1941 with the help of Italy and Germany, Hungary joined the Axis powers in World War II. Soviet troops entered and occupied Hungary and the 1945 Armistice returned the country to its 1937 borders. A year later the country was declared a republic, and free elections were held in 1947. Even though the Smallholders' party won, it was forced out by Communists who were trained in and supported by Moscow. In 1956 there was a popular Revolution against repressive Communist rule, which had included punitive measures against private peasants and a forced policy of heavy industrialization. Soviet forces crushed the revolution and made János Kádár the new leader of what was then called the People's Republic of Hungary. Imre Nagy and other leaders of the revolution were executed; tens of thousands died or were deported, and 200,000 people fled the country to the West. In 1963 there was a sweeping amnesty for political prisoners. The New Economic Mechanism, launched in 1968, introduced, among other things, elements of a market economy, and it helped to improve living Standards. In the spirit of Soviet glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring), Hungarians started strong movements for democratization in 1987. They removed János Kádár from power and rehabilitated the names of Imre Nagy and others. The ruling Communist party renamed itself, opposition parties were legalized, and freedom of press was extended. Free elections were held in 1990 and more radical political and economic changes are occurring.
Geographical conditions influenced the development of Regionally varied settlement patterns, along with many Historical events, like the long Turkish occupation and Habsburg political and economic domination. In addition to the populous peasant towns, in rural Hungary there is still evidence of tanyas, or single isolated farmsteads, tegular villages with geometrically designed streets, and irregular streetless villages that were settled by hads (agnatic kin groups) and nagycsaládok (extended families) in clustered and random style. Until a relatively recent attempt to integrate all buildings and farmyards into one section, in the northern and Central parts of the Great Hungarian Plain most villages and boroughs had kertes, or kétbeltelkes settlements, meaning that the dwellings and farmyards were separated from one another.
Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Depending on the region, the rural economy was and is currently based on agriculture (including grains, tobacco, flax, peppers, melons, fruits), viniculture, animal husbandry (with a focus on raising cattle, pigs, horses), and forestry. Today, however, men and some women regularly commute between villages and urban industrial and mining centers. Also, light industrial plants were established in rural settlements, where village women work. Most village households, therefore, have wage income both from agriculture and industry. Traditional patterns of group work projects and mutual help (kaláka ) continue to be visible in such activities as house building and harvesting, as well as weddings, funerals, and other important rites of passage.
Industrial Arts. Depending on the area, larger settlements had potters, glazed earthenware makers, furrier-embroiderers, fancy honey-cake makers, wood-carvers, and other specialists. In addition to rural craft production, larger cities boasted sophisticated traditions of crafts.
Trade. Throughout the countryside national fairs are frequently held, and there are weekly markets where villagers sell their produce and livestock. In addition, there are general and specialty stores, and in larger towns there are Western-style supermarkets. In 1973 Hungary joined the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. A decade later it was admitted to the International Monetary Fund. The country exports many of its products throughout the world.
Division of Labor. Traditionally there was a marked Sexual and age-group division of labor. In rural Hungary the eldest male was the head of household. Men's special jobs included plowing, reaping, building, and woodwork. Cooking, baking, cleaning, child rearing, weaving, and embroidering were considered the women's domain. Currently, because of out-migration and regular commuting of young and Middle-aged men, there is increasing feminization and aging of village populations. Despite the major changes within the structure of agriculture, industry, and services, much of the traditional sexual division of labor remains.
Land Tenure. Prior to 1945, land was privately owned either in small (often unviably small) plots by peasants or in large estates by aristocrats and wealthy families. In the land reform of 1945, large estates were redistributed among poor families across the country. After 1948 the Communist party and the government attempted to collectivize all agricultural properties and finally succeeded in 1961. As of the 1980s, 93 percent of arable land is cultivated in cooperative or state farms. With changes in property rights imminent, the possibility of increasing amounts of acreage becoming privatized is very likely.
Kinship, Marriage, and Family
Kinship. In traditional Hungarian society an individual was identified principally by his or her place in a kinship Organization. In Hungarian address and reference terms, one does not distinguish between paternal and maternal relatives (or between parallel and cross cousins). Rather, kin from both the father's and mother's side are included in a common class. Kinship is bilaterally reckoned. Traditionally, however, more emphasis was placed on the paternal kin than on the maternal because of the "male-centric" worldview in Hungarian rural society and the economically more beneficial Inheritance system to males along the patriline. There is no uniform reckoning or terminology of kinship. Rather, an urban and a rural system coexist in Hungary. The urban system reflects nuclear family organization, and the rural system and its many regional variants depict the traditional extended family organization. Generally, Hungarian kinship terminology is descriptive and sharply distinguishes between affinal kin, consanguineous kin, and fictive kin. In Hungarian, like in other Finno-Ugric languages, there is a systematic differentiation between elder and younger brothers (báty, öcs ), and Between elder and younger sisters (növér, hug ). The fictive kinship of godparenthood (keresztkomaság ) is a highly significant, lifelong alliance.
Marriage. Even though only the birth of a child transforms a couple into a family, marriage is the emblem of maturity and conveys a status of adulthood, particularly in rural communities. Weddings are very elaborate, opulent affairs. Being unmarried after the age of 20-22 for women and 25-27 for men is negatively sanctioned. Traditional patterns of wife beating continue. Divorces are increasingly common, particularly in urban areas. According to 1987 data, there were 2.8 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants in the country.
Domestic Unit. Depending upon socioeconomic circumstances, both the nuclear family and various forms of the joint or extended family organization were present even within the same rural settlement in traditional times. Extended families were maintained the longest among some Hungarian subethnic groups, for example among the Palóc, Matyó, and Seklers. While there are still a number of multi-generational families who live under the same roof and share "the same bread" today the most frequent form is the independently residing nuclear family.
Inheritance. According to an 1840 law, property was to be divided equally among all surviving children regardless of gender. Most often, however, land was either divided equally among sons or the entire land property and the family dwelling were given to the eldest or most capable son. Other sons were given their share in money. Daughters, who of course married out of the paternal household, either gave up their rights to inherit real property or were paid a small sum. Often it was the responsibility of mothers to provide their daughters with proper dowries.
Socialization. In the past, with a pattern of patrilocal Postmarital residence, the mother, older siblings, and the female kin in the paternal household were responsible for the upbringing of children. Independence at an early age, respect for elders, and conformity to local and familial values were stressed. Currently, with the increasingly frequent pattern of neolocal postmarital residence, most rural children are raised by their mothers, maternal natal kin, and the village nursery and elementary schools. Even though today there is strong orientation toward child-centeredness, corporal punishment is still frequent.
Political Organization. In October 1989, Hungary was declared a republic. There are nineteen counties within the country. Hungary is presently undergoing very rapid and radical changes with the development of parliamentary democracy. Potential changes in political, administrative, and state structures are envisioned.
Social Control. The county and national court systems attempt to resolve conflicts and maintain conformity. At the same time, public opinion, gossip, and tradition are still strong forces in many rural settlements, where often village customs continue to function as a largely self-contained "legal system," independent of the state.
Conflict. The history and cultural relations of the Magyars were laden with internal and external conflicts. Some of these continue into the present. Most explicitly on the domestic scene there is discord between the Magyar and the Gypsy populations, and in the international arena there is considerable friction between Hungary and the governments of Romania and the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic.
Religion and Expressive Culture
Religious Beliefe. Approximately 62 percent of the Population is Roman Catholic, 25 percent Protestant, 3 percent Eastern Orthodox, 1 percent Jewish. Some of the practices combine elements of Christian and ancient pagan folk beliefs and customs.
Ceremonies. Some of the most important celebrations of the church calendrical year include namedays (névnapok ). New Year's Day, Carnival (Farsang), the village patron saint's day (búcsu ), Easter, Whitsuntide, All Saints' Day, and Christmas. In addition, rituals tied to the agricultural calendar include new bread, harvest, and grape-harvest festivals. National holidays commemorate significant historical events.
Arts. There is considerable regional differentiation in Hungarian folk art. Still, most designs are floral, and often even the geometric motifs are turned into monumental and colorful flowers. On furniture, wood carvings, paintings, and pottery patriotic symbols such as heroes of liberty, the national shield of Hungary, and the red, white, and green of the national flag appear. Pentatonic music, csárdás dances, and traditional rural architecture are also noteworthy representations of Hungarian art. Of course, urban forms of literature and the plastic arts have consistently represented all significant artistic expressions known throughout Europe.
Medicine. Since the early 1950s, Hungarian medical care has been socialized. Women give birth in hospitals rather than at home, and regional doctors and medical clinics take care of the ill. Among other things, drafts are assumed to cause some infirmities. There are home remedies, such as herbal teas and compresses, that are believed to help various health problems.
Death and Afterlife. A number of ancient beliefs and customs still surround the dying and the dead, as well as the mortuary practices and funerals. It is believed that before leaving for the life hereafter, the deceased's spirit lingers on for a while in or near the body. Elaborate rituals both during the preparation of the body for the coffin and during the funeral procession ensure that the spirit will not cause harm to the living but that it can find its way to the netherworld. Both urban and rural people sometimes consult seers (halottlátók ), who act as mediators and through whom they communicate with their dead.
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EVA V. HUSEBY-DARVAS
ALTERNATE NAMES: Magyars (Ethnic Hungarians)
POPULATION: About 10 million
LANGUAGE: Hungarian ( Magyar); German
RELIGION: Roman Catholic; Reformed Calvinist; Lutheran; smaller numbers of Jews, members of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and other Protestant sects
The western portion of present-day Hungary was conquered by the Romans in 9 bc. The Magyars, who had invaded the Carpathian basin in ad 896, were converted to Christianity at the beginning of the 11th century by King Stephen, who remains a national hero. Turkish rule, beginning in the 16th century, was followed by union with the Habsburgs, which lasted until modern times, although the Magyars gained some autonomy under the dual monarchy from 1867 to World War I.
After 40 years behind the "Iron Curtain," Hungary held its first free elections in 1990 and began transforming its economy, applying for membership in the European Union (EU) in 1994. Hungary joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1999 and the EU in 2004.
LOCATION AND HOMELAND
Hungary is a landlocked nation in central Europe. While other political boundaries in the region were redrawn in the early 1990s, Hungary's territory remained unchanged: it is bordered by Austria and Slovenia in the w, Slovakia in the n, Ukraine in the ne, Romania in the e, and Croatia and Yugoslavia in the s. Geographically, Hungary consists of four major regions: the Danube River valley, the Great Plain, the Lake Balaton region, and the Northern Mountains. Its highest elevation is Kekes Mountain, which rises to a height of 3,093 feet.
Ethnic Hungarians, or Magyars, make up the vast majority (some 92.3%) of Hungary's population of 10 million. While their cultural ties have always been with the West, particularly Austria, the Magyars were originally a central Asian people who migrated to the Carpathian basin in the 9th century. Hungary's ethnic minorities include Germans, Slovaks, Croats, and Romanians. Approximately 1.9% of the population is Roma.
The Hungarian, or Magyar, language is universally spoken in Hungary. Since it is a Finno-Ugric rather than an Indo-European language, it has practically no resemblance to such commonly spoken Western languages as English, French, Spanish, or German. The only languages it resembles at all are Finnish, Estonian, and a few others spoken in remote parts of Russia and Siberia. Hungarian is notoriously difficult for non-native speakers to master, with its accent marks, double letters (cs, gy, ny), and lengthy words (due partly to the practice of adding prepositions to the ends of words). The most popular second language in Hungary is German, a legacy from the days of the Habsburgs. Despite years of mandatory classes, Hungarians never became comfortable with Russian, which was foreign to them linguistically, as it was not for the Slavic peoples of other former communist "satellites" such as Poland and Czechoslovakia.
For the most part, the traditional folklore of Hungary is dying out. Even major life-cycle events such as births, weddings, and deaths are commemorated in modern, Western ways. However, some urban dwellers enjoy harking back to their peasant roots with the custom of disnótor , a feast that follows the slaughtering of a pig. In addition, the Christmas custom called Betlehemzés, in which men and boys perform a nativity play using a model church and manger that they carry with them from door to door, is still alive in some regions. Another religious tradition —revived in some rural areas —is the Eastertime fertility ritual of locsolkodas , in which boys and men sprinkle water or perfume on girls and receive a painted Easter egg in return. The traditional wine harvest festival is still held in wine-growing regions in September and October, but these days, as often as not, it includes a rock band and outdoor disco.
About 52% of Hungarians are Roman Catholic, 16% Reformed Calvinists, and 3% Lutherans, with smaller numbers of Jews, members of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and other Protestant sects. In general, the Hungarians are not a deeply religious people. Historically, the dominant religion of the country changed several times under different rulers, including a period under the Turks when thousands of Hungarians converted to Islam. Thus the Hungarians are known for being more pragmatic —and tolerant —about religion than many of their neighbors.
New Year's, or Farsang, begins a season of balls throughout the country that lasts until Ash Wednesday. The Busójárás carnival, one of the liveliest celebrations —comparable to the American Mardi Gras in New Orleans —is held in February, on the last weekend before Lent. On March 15, the 1848–49 Revolution is commemorated with speeches, flag-waving, and parades. Large crowds gather in the capital city of Budapest to
celebrate this event. Easter Monday is the most important religious holiday in Hungary.
Although the spirit of May Day celebrations has changed since the collapse of communism, the day is still celebrated as a workers' holiday. August 20, St. Stephen's Day, is Hungary's national day, celebrated with fireworks throughout the country; in Budapest, a million people gather on the banks of the Danube to watch the display. Proclamation of the Republic Day on October 23, commemorating the 1956 uprising against the communist regime, is marked by torch-lit processions. Christmas and Boxing Day are celebrated privately in family gatherings.
Instead of their own birthdays, Hungarians, like people in other primarily Catholic countries, tend to celebrate the feast day of the saint for whom they are named (special calendars even provide dates for those with purely secular names). The customary gifts are flowers, wine, or cake, all of which can be given any time in the week following the name day.
RITES OF PASSAGE
Hungary is a relatively modern, industrialized, Christian country. Hence, many of the rites of passage that young people undergo are religious rituals, such as baptism, first Communion, confirmation, and marriage. In addition, a student's progress through the education system is marked by many families with graduation parties.
Two special ceremonies mark students' graduation from high school. The first, known as szalagavato or the ribbon cer-emony, takes place in February of the final school year. During a ceremony attended by parents, grandparents, and teachers, members of the junior class perform a solemn ritual of pinning ribbons on members of the senior class. Entertainment follows, and includes both contemporary dancers and traditional folk dancing in costume by members of the senior class. The second ritual, held in May just prior to final exams, involves marching or ballagas. The night before the ballagas, the school is decorated with garlands of fresh flowers by members of the junior class. The seniors dress specially for the occasion, often in black and white, and carry embroidered pouches containing some salt, money, and a pagacsa or small roll, supplies to support them as they embark on the adventure of life beyond school. Singing, they march through every classroom single file, holding onto the shoulder of the person in front and gathering flowers from onlookers. Other students stand at attention, and family members crowd the halls. Many families continue the celebration with a party at home when the march is finished.
Social interaction among Hungarians is formal and polite. A young woman will often have her hand kissed in greeting, especially by an older man, and this custom is referred to in the traditional greeting of young people toward their elders (Csókolom—"I kiss it"). Even close friends shake hands when greeting each other. However, at resort areas in the summer it is common for women to appear topless.
Dogs are especially beloved by Hungarians, and many own the popular puli or komondor breeds.
After World War II, a severe housing shortage developed in Hungary as workers flocked to the cities from rural villages, attracted by the communist government's industrialization program. Most existing apartments had only one room and a kitchen area and many had been damaged in the war. Lacking resources to build enough low-rent apartments, the government encouraged private housing construction, which improved matters somewhat for higher-income individuals. However, those with less money continued to depend on government-subsidized housing, which had long waiting lists. Housing is still a problem in urban areas, one which has been cited as a prime cause of stress within families.
Work-related stress, smoking, and the heavy Hungarian diet contribute to a high rate of heart disease among Hungarians, who have had the world's highest suicide rate for most of the last century. Average life expectancy was 73 in 2008. Under the communist regime in the 1980s about 99% of the population was covered by national health insurance. Since the collapse of communism, Hungary's health care system became more decentralized and privatized. Employees pay 3% of their income to the social insurance fund, but the population also pays local and national income tax, which helps to finance the health care system. Patients also make co-payments on certain services, including pharmaceuticals, dental care, and rehabilitation. These out-of-pocket payments have increased substantially since 1990, and currently contribute 18% to health care financing.
Hungary's transportation facilities, whose hub is Budapest, have been improving steadily since the 1960s, and the largercities have good transport systems. The main waterway is the Danube River.
Traditionally, village households in Hungary were composed of either nuclear or extended families, a pattern which sometimes varied even within a single village. Today, the nuclear family is more prevalent in the country as well as in urban areas. In the past, it was frowned upon for a woman to remain unmarried beyond the age of 22 (27 for a man), but this is changing. The traditional Hungarian wedding is an elaborate and expensive affair. Patterns of family life shifted under the communists, the most notable change being the increased number of women working outside the home. By 1987 around 75% of women had jobs. Although they are still regarded as the head of the household, the traditional dominance of families by men has been reduced. In recent decades the divorce rate has risen; 37.5% of new marriages ended in divorce in 2002.
Hungarians generally wear modern Western-style clothing. Casual wear in the cities includes the jeans, T-shirts, and sweatshirts that might be seen in any industrialized nation. Pantsuits are popular with both men and women for casual and more formal occasions. In rural areas, one can still see women wearing the traditional peasant babushkas on their heads and men wearing hats with floppy brims. The traditional costumes worn for festivals sport much elaborate, brightly colored embroidery. Women wear white embroidered aprons with lace trim, while men wear white plain or embroidered shirts and dark vests, which may also be embroidered.
Hungary has long been known for its rich, abundant food. The Hungarian diet is heavily meat-based, with pork the most commonly used ingredient. The most famous dish is probably gou-lash ( gulyás ), a soup or stew made with meat, onions, potatoes, and, often, other vegetables and seasoned with paprika. Stews with sour cream are called paprikash, and fish soups (called levesek or halászlé ) are also popular. Stuffed cabbages and peppers ( töltött ) are prepared with meat and rice and commonly cooked in tomato sauce or sour cream. The prevalence of the spice paprika in Hungarian cooking has given it a reputation for spiciness, but paprika actually comes in several different strengths and the mildest form is the one used most often. The rich Hungarian desserts resemble those of Germany and Austria; commonly used ingredients include chocolate, various types of nuts, and rich sauces containing cream, more nuts, and more chocolate. Popular desserts include pancakes ( palacsinta ) with dessert fillings (a version of crèpes) and strudel.
The Hungarians are a well-educated people: 99.4% of adults are literate, and about 16% of the population have college degrees (approximately 31% of the population was enrolled in college in 2006). Schools provide eight years of primary and four years of secondary education, and education is compulsory until the age of 16. The collapse of communism brought with it major changes in Hungary's educational system. A large percentage of primary and secondary schools are now run by various religious groups, and Russian, once compulsory, is rarely studied now. Hungary is also known for a method of music education devised by the composer Zoltán Kodály.
Hungary has a rich artistic heritage. The arts flourished during the days of the Austro-Hungarian empire and the Dual Monarchy and into the 20th century, although following World War II serious limits were placed on artistic expression by the communist regime. One distinctive feature of Hungarian culture is the interchange between folk art and fine art. Two notable 20th-century examples can be found in the compositions of Béla Bartók and the ceramic sculptures of Margit Kovács.
Notable painters include Mihály Munkácsy in the 19th century and Szinyei Merse at the turn of the 20th. The famous 19th-century composer Franz Liszt spent most of his life abroad but eventually returned to the land of his birth to become the first president of the Hungarian Academy of Music. Other than Bartók, the most prominent 20th-century Hungarian composer was Zoltán Kodály. Much Hungarian literature has been politically inspired. National Song , written by the nation's most celebrated poet, Sándor Petofi, became a rallying cry in the mid-19th-century War of Independence. The Tragedy of Man , a play written by Imre Madách after Hungary's defeat, is considered the nation's greatest classical drama. Famous 20th-century poets include Endre Ady and Attila József. The works of contemporary writers György Konrád and Péter Esterházy are available in English translation. Imre Kertész is a Hungarian Jewish author, Holocaust survivor, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2002.
Employment patterns in Hungary shifted dramatically during the communist industrialization of the 1950s and 1960s. In 1949 only 19% of the labor force was employed in industry; by 2003 that figure had risen to 33.3%. (In the same year, about 5.5% were employed in agriculture, 61.2% in services.) It is not uncommon for Hungarians to hold second and even third jobs in addition to their primary one; in the late 1980s about three-fourths of Hungarian families had income from such economic "sidelines." After the downfall of communism, unemployment rose from about 2% to over 13% by 1993. Although Hungary saw the unemployment level fall to 7.1% by 2007, its labor force participation rate of 57% was one of the lowest in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The government implemented an austerity program of tax hikes and subsidy cuts to reduce the large budget deficit, but the reforms caused Hungarians to limit their spending, slowing economic growth to less than 2% in 2007.
Soccer ("football") and water polo are both very popular participant sports. Most cities and towns have both indoor and outdoor public pools. Besides soccer, other spectator sports include tennis, skiing, and horse racing.
ENTERTAINMENT AND RECREATION
Hungarians like to relax during their leisure hours by reading, watching television and videos, and playing sports. The most popular spectator sport is soccer (called football). Chess is also popular; the young chess master Judit Polgár is a national celebrity. Polgár was the first woman ever to play for the World Chess Championship title, in 2005.
The arts play a substantial role in Hungarian life, especially music. Many cities have symphony or chamber orchestras, theaters, and cultural centers, and there are numerous festivals in the spring, summer, and autumn. Vacation trips are extremely popular among the Hungarians, most of whom head for the country in August. Many own or have access to summer cottages where they can spend time over weekends or during an extended holiday.
FOLK ART, CRAFTS, AND HOBBIES
Hungary has a rich tradition of folk art dating back to the 18th century. One famous example is the beautiful, brightly colored embroidery that adorns the traditional costumes of both men and women. The weavers of the Sárköz region produce a distinctive red and black fabric, and simpler cloth is turned out by craftspeople in other parts of the country. The pottery of the Great Plain region is known for its exceptional craftsmanship, and items decorated with writing (usually to commemorate a wedding) are especially prized. Many households are graced by traditional wood carvings, and the art of ceiling and wall painting can be seen in certain parts of the country. Hungarian folk music is known for its pentatonic scale, adapted by such 20th-century composers as Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály, and the csárdás is a popular folk dance.
The transition to a market economy caused considerable social disruption and hardship, including spiraling inflation, high rates of unemployment, and the failure of many businesses. In the early 1990s interest rates on loans were as high as 50%. A severe housing shortage continues to be a fact of life in urban areas. Air pollution resulting from industrialization instituted by the former communist regime is a serious problem; the incidence of lung cancer in Budapest has doubled over the past 20 years. Toxic waste dumped by the Soviet military threatens the soil and water supply. While the rights of ethnic minorities are generally respected, there is still widespread discrimination against the Roma in employment, housing, and other areas. Domestic violence is still a problem in Hungary today.
Hungary has an illicit drug problem, being as it is a trans-shipment point for Southwest Asian heroin and cannabis and for South American cocaine. Chemicals used to make amphetamines and methamphetamines are produced there, and although there are efforts to curb money laundering related to organized crime and drug trafficking, it remains a problem. Hungarians are significant consumers of the drug ecstasy.
Beginning in 1989, many women's and feminist organizations were formed. The Feminist Network, established in 1990, advocates women's equality. Until it turned conservative in the mid-1990s, the Federation of Young Democrats (FIDESZ) was an important political party for liberal young women. The new market economy has affected many women who both provide income and still care for the home and family. While Hungary's abortion laws are relatively liberal, such restrictions as mandated counseling sessions have come into effect in recent years.
Homosexual activity above the age of 20 was decriminalized in 1961, then above the age of 18 in 1978. The age of consent is 14 as of a 2002 Constitutional Court decision. Homosexuals may serve in the military. However, as of 2006, only 18% of Hungarians supported same-sex marriage compared to the EU-wide average of 44%. Budapest has a Gay Pride event every summer, which features a film festival and parade.
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—revised by J. Hobby
ALTERNATE NAMES: Magyars (Ethnic Hungarians)
POPULATION: 10 million
LANGUAGE: Hungarian (Magyar); German
1 • INTRODUCTION
Hungary is a landlocked nation in central Europe. The western portion of present-day Hungary was conquered by the Romans in 9 bc. The Magyars, who invaded the region in ad 896, were converted to Christianity at the beginning of the eleventh century by King Stephen, who remains a national hero. Turkish rule, beginning in the sixteenth century, was followed by union with the Austrian Hapsburg empire, which lasted until World War I (1914–18).
After over forty years behind the communist "Iron Curtain," Hungary held its first free elections in 1990 and began transforming its economy under Prime Minister Jozsef Antall. Hungary became an associate member of the European Union in 1994.
2 • LOCATION
Although its neighbors' political boundaries were redrawn in the early 1990s, Hungary's territory remained unchanged. It consists of four major regions: the Danube River valley, the Great Plain, the Lake Balaton region, and the Northern Mountains. Ethnic Hungarians, or Magyars, make up the majority of Hungary's 10 million people.
3 • LANGUAGE
The Hungarian, or Magyar, language is universally spoken in Hungary. It is a Finno-Ugric rather than an Indo-European language. Thus it has almost no resemblance to such Western languages as English, French, Spanish, or German. Instead, it is more like Finnish, Estonian, and a few languages spoken in remote parts of Russia.
4 • FOLKLORE
For the most part, the traditional folklore of Hungary is dying out. One religious tradition revived in some rural areas is the Eastertime fertility ritual of locsolkodas. Boys and men sprinkle water or perfume on girls and receive a painted Easter egg in return.
5 • RELIGION
About two-thirds of Hungarians are Roman Catholic. In general, the Hungarians are not a deeply religious people. The dominant religion of their country changed several times under different rulers. Thus the Hungarians are known for being more tolerant about religion than many of their neighbors.
6 • MAJOR HOLIDAYS
New Year's (January 1), or Farsang, begins a season of formal dances and parties throughout the country that lasts until Ash Wednesday (sometime in February). On March 15, the 1848–49 Revolution is commemorated with speeches, flag-waving, and parades. Easter Monday (late March or early April) is the most important religious holiday in Hungary.
May Day (May 1) is celebrated as a workers' holiday. August 20, St. Stephen's Day, is Hungary's national day, celebrated with fireworks throughout the country. Proclamation of the Republic Day on October 23 commemorates the 1956 uprising against the Communist regime. It is marked by torch-lit processions. Christmas (December 25) and Boxing Day (December 26) are celebrated privately in family gatherings.
Instead of their own birthdays, Hungarians, like people in other primarily Catholic countries, tend to celebrate the feast day of the saint for whom they are named.
7 • RITES OF PASSAGE
Many of the rites of passage that young people undergo in Hungary are Christian rituals such as baptism, first communion, confirmation, and marriage. In addition, many families mark a student's progress through the educational system with graduation parties.
Two special ceremonies mark students' graduation from high school. In February of their senior year, students take part in a ribbon-pinning ceremony called szalagavato. In May, just before final exams, comes the ballagas, or marching ritual. The seniors form a line and march through every classroom singing as the teachers and other students present them with flowers. In embroidered pouches, they carry salt, money, and a pagacsa or small roll, all of which are meant to symbolically support them as they embark on their adult lives.
8 • RELATIONSHIPS
Social interactions in Hungary are formal and polite. Hungarians, especially older men, often greet young women by kissing their hands. Kissing a person's hand as a sign of respect is referred to in the traditional greeting of young people toward their elders (Csókolom— "I kiss it"). Even close friends shake hands when greeting each other.
Currently, young people like to use the English word "hello" as slang for "goodbye."
9 • LIVING CONDITIONS
After World War II (1939–45), a severe housing shortage developed in Hungary as workers flocked to the cities from rural villages. Most existing apartments had only one room and a kitchen area. Many had been damaged in the war. Those who had to depend on government-funded housing were placed on long waiting lists. There is still a shortage of adequate housing in urban areas.
10 • FAMILY LIFE
Traditionally, both nuclear and extended families were found in rural areas of Hungary. Today, the nuclear family is more common in the country, as well as in urban areas. Hungarians generally marry between the ages of twenty and twenty-four.
Patterns of family life have shifted since World War II (1939–45). The most notable change is the increased number of women working outside the home. By 1987 about 75 percent of women had jobs. In recent decades the divorce rate has risen. About one in every three marriages ends in divorce.
11 • CLOTHING
Hungarians generally wear modern Western-style clothing. Casual wear in the cities includes jeans, T-shirts, and sweatshirts. Pantsuits are popular with both men and women for casual and more formal occasions. In rural areas, one can still see more traditional clothing. Women may wear peasant babushkas (scarves) on their heads, and men may wear hats with floppy brims.
- 3 slices of bacon
- 1½ pounds pork loin, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- ½ teaspoon caraway seeds
- 1 Tablespoon paprika (preferably Hungarian-style paprika)
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- ¼ cup water
- 3 cups sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
- ½ green pepper, cut into small squares
- 1 tomato, chopped (½ cup chopped canned tomatoes may be substituted)
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- Cook bacon until crisp. Cool on paper towels. Crumble bacon.
- Add pork, onion, caraway seeds, and paprika to pan. Brown pork over medium heat.
- Stir in soup, water, and sauerkraut. Cover pan and simmer over low heat for one hour, stirring occasionally.
- Add green pepper and tomato and simmer 30 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
- Combine sour cream and flour. Stir this combination into the pork mixture. Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.
- Garnish with bacon and parsley.
Serve with rice, egg noodles, or boiled potatoes.
The traditional costumes worn for festivals have fancy, brightly colored embroidery. Women wear white embroidered aprons with lace trim, while men wear plain or embroidered white shirts and dark vests.
12 • FOOD
The Hungarian diet is heavily meat-based. Pork is the most commonly used ingredient. The most famous dish is probably goulash (gulyás). It is a soup or stew made with meat, onions, and potatoes, and seasoned with paprika. Often, other vegetables are added as well. Stews with sour cream are called paprikash. Fish soups (called levesek or halászlé ) are also popular. Popular desserts include pancakes (palacsinta) with dessert fillings (a version of crèpes) and strudel.
13 • EDUCATION
Schools provide eight years of primary and four years of secondary education, and education is required until the age of sixteen. About 40 percent of primary and secondary schools are now run by various religious groups. Institutions of higher learning include four comprehensive universities, fifteen specialized universities, and forty-two specialized colleges.
14 • CULTURAL HERITAGE
One distinctive feature of Hungarian culture is the merging of folk art and fine art. Two notable twentieth-century examples can be found in the compositions of Béla Bartók and the ceramic sculptures of Margit Kovács.
Notable painters include Mihály Munkácsy in the nineteenth century, and Szinyei Merse at the turn of the twentieth century. The famous nineteenth-century composer Franz Liszt was born in Hungary. Much Hungarian literature has been politically inspired. National Song, written by the nation's most celebrated poet, Sándor Petofi, became a rallying cry in the 1848 War of Independence. Famous twentieth-century poets include Endre Ady and Attila József.
15 • EMPLOYMENT
In 1991 nearly one-third of Hungarians were employed in industry, and about one-fifth in agriculture. After the downfall of communism in 1990, unemployment rose from about 2 percent to over 13 percent by 1993. It is not uncommon for Hungarians to hold second and even third jobs. Women account for over 50 percent of the labor force.
16 • SPORTS
Soccer and water polo are both very popular participant sports. Most cities and towns have both indoor and outdoor public pools. Besides soccer, other spectator sports include tennis, skiing, and horse racing.
17 • RECREATION
Hungarians like to relax during their leisure hours by reading, watching television and videos, and playing sports. The most popular spectator sport is soccer (called "foot-ball"). Chess is also popular.
Vacation trips are extremely popular among Hungarians. Most go to the country in August. Many own or have access to summer cottages where they can spend time on weekends or during extended holidays.
18 • CRAFTS AND HOBBIES
Many Hungarian homes are graced by traditional woodcarvings. The weavers of the Sárköz region produce a distinctive red and black fabric, and the Great Plain region is known for its pottery.
Hungarian folk music is known for its pentatonic scale (having five tones to the octave), adapted by such twentieth-century composers as Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály. The csárdás is a popular folk dance.
19 • SOCIAL PROBLEMS
The transition from communism to a free-market economy since 1990 has caused much social disruption. Problems include inflation, rapidly growing unemployment, and the failure of many businesses. A severe housing shortage continues to be a fact of life in urban areas. There is widespread discrimination against the Gypsies in employment, housing, and other areas.
20 • BIBLIOGRAPHY
Domjan, Joseph. Hungarian Heroes and Legends. Princeton, N.J.: Van Nostrand, 1963.
Handler, Andrew, and Susan V. Meschel (eds.). Young People Speak: Surviving the Holocaust in Hungary. New York: Franklin Watts, 1993.
Hill, Raymond. Hungary, Nations in Transition. New York: Facts on File, 1997.
Hungary: A Country Study. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990.
Jackson, Livia Bitton. I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1997.
Steins, Richard. Hungary, Exploring Cultures of the World. New York: Benchmark Books, 1998.
Embassy of Hungary. Washington, D.C. [Online] Available http://www.hungaryemb.org/, 1998.
Hungarian National Tourist Office. [Online] Available http://www.hungarytourism.hu/, 1998.
World Travel Guide. Hungary. [Online] Available http://www.wtgonline.com/country/hu/gen.html, 1998.