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15th March is the most widely celebrated National Holiday in Hungary. The memory of the country’s war of independence is very much alive in the memories of the Hungarian people, just as it has been in the past 170 years. It is also a celebration of youth and Spring – no wonder there are plenty of “kokárdas” and exciting programs calling you for a visit during the long holiday weekend in Budapest.

If a film director would make a movie of the great revolution of Hungary, Count István Széchenyi would be the visioner of independence (a very similar character to Abraham Lincoln), Lajos Kossuth would be the President and General of the Army (George Washington), and Sándor Petőfi would play the revolutionary poet (Thomas Pane). The story would make big headlines today: a nation proud of the 850 years of having its own state, is waking up to fight against the oppressive Habsburg Monarchy for their freedom and independence.

The Revolution started on 15th March, 1848 with the flaming speech of Sándor Petőfi, the Poet of the Revolution, then with the help of Kossuth, the energetic political leader of the opposition and the conservative Count Széchenyi, it quickly escalated to a national scale. The newly recruited Hungarian National Army fought bravely for a year-and-a-half against the more powerful weaponry of the Austrians and later against the mighty Russian troops. The war of independence got finally beaten down in August 1849, yet, after nearly two decades of consolation, the memory of the glorious Revolution is very much alive in the memories of the Hungarians. The red, white and green striped rosette – or kokárda in Hungarian – you can see pinned on the coats of the Hungarian people in mid-March, represent the memory of the 1848/49 Revolution and their respect for its heroes.


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