What does 20 August mean for the Hungarians?
The Hungarians commemorate today the founding of the Hungarian state by King Stephen I, who was canonised on 20 August 1083. He was the first Christian king of the Hungarians and his crown is featured on the country's national coat of arms. Hungarian commentators take widely diverging views of the significance of this day.
In defence of Christian Europe
The Hungarian constitution which came into effect in 2012 rightly states that since the founding of the state of Hungary by Saint Stephen the Hungarians have been part of Christian Europe, the pro-government daily Magyar Hírlap stresses:
“We are proud that 'our nation has over the centuries defended Europe in a series of struggles and enriched Europe's shared values with its talent and diligence'. Today, in August 2018, we can only repeat this message, since Europe's culture, way of life and institutions such as the family, Church and nation, which are all based on Christian values, are increasingly under attack from the outside - and unfortunately also from the inside. These destructive forces want to rob Europeans of their family, their religion, their gender identity, their nationality and their culture and turn them into a faceless, multicultural mass that lacks an identity and can be easily controlled from abroad - and enslaved.”
Orbán undoing Stephen's legacy
While Stephen I may have been more ruthless than Orbán, at least he took the Hungarians in the right direction, the government-critical daily Népszava writes:
“No one can maintain that the first Hungarian king converted the tribes to the spirit of the nation through peaceful means. ... King Stephen forced the Hungarians into the European community. Today's leaders want to take the nation in the opposite direction. They too are violent, although their covert and overt methods don't go as far as drawing and quartering or pouring lead into dissenters' ears. ... History proved Stephen right. However, we don't need to suffer for another 1,000 years to discover that it won't do the same for Viktor Orbán.”