Saturday the crowds came out in Budapest to celebrate St. Stephen's Day.
St. Stephen's Day is the celebration of Hungary's birth. It could be compared to America's 4th of July, but it was 1000 years ago instead of 200 and it celebrates a king's achievement rather than opposition to a king.
Quick history lesson... St. Stephen is the patron saint of Hungary who killed his uncle in a fight for the throne, hung his body in pieces around the country, and united Hungary as one country. All more than 1000 years ago. He was sainted a few years after his death and Hungary kept his hand in St. Stephen's Basilica. Yep, a 1000 year old hand that you can still see on display in the church. Looks like Tales from the Crypt. Now Hungarians celebrate August 20 as St. Stephen's Day and the forming of their nation, when they parade St. Stephen's hand around the city and have lots of festivities.
On our first St. Stephen's Day roads were closed to traffic and trams all over down-town to accommodate the thousands of people who came out to join the festivities. Even the bridges hoisted the Hungarian flag as people swarmed from one side of the city to the other.There was music and dancing in traditional Hungarian style.
We watched an air show from the castle as planes whizzed across the river and under bridges.
There were many performances on the cobble stone streets. Felt like being in Medieval times.
We ate Hungarian food from the many fair booths and window shopped through all the hand-made crafts. No buying for us this time!
The evening culminated with a HUGE fireworks display along the river. Three locations of fireworks all going off on the same time was an amazing site!
We didn't let the party end there though. Went out with friends in the castle district. This bar was built in the 1700's! So cool.
Our first Hungarian festival was a great experience. Looking forward to the beer festival next weekend and the wine festival two weekends after that. Lots of fun to be had!