Revolution Day 2017 and 2018
On the 15th of March, Hungary celebrates its national holiday known as Revolution Day.
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This day represents freedom and democracy as it honours the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. This revolution, which blossomed into a war for Hungarian independence, brought an end to the Habsburg rule. Its history reveals the complexity of the Empires that once ruled this part of Europe and also the power of outside military forces. In spite of all this power, Hungarians managed to overcome and free themselves from it. Revolution Day is now widely celebrated throughout the country.
The History Behind March 15th in Hungary
The revolution in Hungary began on the 15th of March, 1848. It followed a number of uprisings across Europe. The famous journalist Lajos Kossuth came to the forefront of these efforts. A result of the revolution was a new and independent, democratic government in Hungary. This allowed for the election of the first Hungarian Prime Minister, Lajos Batthyány.
At the same time, Vienna was experiencing a revolution under the Habsburg Empire. Although the Empire accepted the demands of the revolution at first, it later defeated the Austrian revolution and moved into Hungary to do the same destruction to its newly-formed parliament. In this way, the simple revolution in Hungary transformed into a war between Hungary and Austria.
This war for independence continued until August of 1849. The Hungarians started strong and managed to secure independence completely from Austria, making Lajos Kossuth the Governor-President. Such an upset led to the Habsburgs seeking assistance from their ally in Russia: the Czar. With the Russian army invading Hungary, the revolution was defeated. Kossuth resigned from his Governor-President position and fled, coming to the United States for a short time. (Kosuth County, Iowa is even named after him for his efforts in the revolution.) The first Hungarian Prime Minister Lajos Batthyány was then executed at what is now known as Szabadság Square. Thirteen other leaders were then executed in Arad, Hungary.
Celebrating Revolution Day in Hungary
While traveling in Hungary during the month of March, there are some important cities for celebrating this national holiday. A number of buildings have become symbols in the revolution, and many Hungarians wear cockades to celebrate. Cities are busy with various festivities, but historic sites are also key points of gathering. Museums are a popular visit at this time as they are often free-of-charge and offer a look into the history of revolution and Empire that stood before it. If you will be finding yourself traveling in Hungary during the springtime, be sure to check out these locations:
- Hungarian National Museum: This is where young revolutionaries held a mass demonstration in 1848 on the first day of the revolution.
- Kossuth Square: In front of the Hungarian National Museum, festivities begin in the morning as the Hungarian flag is raised.
- Castle Hill: Celebrations of dance and programs with music continue in this location, and numerous museums are open to the public for free on this day.
Visiting Hungary on the 15th of March will surely not disappoint. There is a plethora of things to do on this day, and nearly anywhere you go will be filled with reminders of the revolution. Feel free to wander whatever city you find yourself in and you will surely be exposed to a piece of Hungarian history. These festivities are a fun and exciting way to commemorate the efforts that took place to make Hungary the country it is today. So go see some dancing, try some traditional food, and enjoy Revolution Day in Hungary!