Hungarian Republic Day is celebrated every year on October 23. This day is honored in remembrance of two great events in Hungary’s history. First, when the people of Hungary stood up against the Soviet Union, and second, the creation of Hungary in 1989. The Hungarian Revolution was an impulsive revolt that spread throughout the whole of Hungary. The nation revolted against the local government and the policies that were imposed on it by the Soviets. The revolution lasted from October 23 till November 10, 1956. Despite the revolution’s failure, it played a great role in the fall of the Soviet Union many years later.
The day also celebrates the first free parliamentary election that led to the declaration of Hungary as a free republic. The holiday is celebrated throughout the country with exhibitions and speeches that celebrate the Hungarian people and culture.
History of Hungarian Republic Day
Hungary had been under the control of the Soviet Union after the Second World War ended. Under the Stalinist government, thousands of non-communist Hungarians were relocated, with their housing confiscated in an attempt to consolidate the power of the government. A concerted effort was made to control the country through cultural control. The government introduced the Russian language and Communist political philosophy in schools, and these studies were compulsory for all students. There was a significant economic decline during this time as well. Later on, when the democratic changes occurred in Austria, the Hungarians were hopeful of the same adjustments.
Unfortunately, the hopes of the people of Hungary were shattered after the establishment of the Warsaw Pact in 1955. To demand democratic changes in Hungary and to gain freedom from the rule of the Soviet Union, the students of Hungary held a protest in Budapest in 1956. It was supported by most people and the number of protestors grew, resulting in many protests across Hungary.
The Soviets tried to take back control by deploying tanks on the streets of Budapest. As a result, the people of Hungary rebelled against the local government and until the Soviets called for a ceasefire and announced to carry out fair elections.
The above event is remembered as the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. To honor this event, the Hungarians declared the Third Hungarian Republic on October 23, 1989. The Hungarians demanded some changes be made in the constitution of Hungary, which included permitting multi-party politics, public assembly, and the establishment of a power separation in the government.
The official celebration for this day was declared on October 23 in 1991 by the National Assembly.
Hungarian Republic Day timeline
The Warsaw pact is established, leading to the beginning of protests in Budapest.
As a result of the Warsaw Pact, students hold a protest in Budapest, resulting in the Hungarian Revolution.
October 23 is chosen as the date to remember the Hungarian Revolution.
The National Assembly announces October 23 as the official celebration of the Hungarian Revolution.
Hungarian Republic Day FAQs
What is Hungary's main religion?
Nearly 40% of the population identify as Roman Catholic, 11,6% as Calvinist, 2,2% as Lutheran, 1,8% as Greek Catholic, and 1,9% as some other religion.
What do Hungarians celebrate on the 15th of March?
On March 15, Hungarians commemorate the Revolution and the following War of Independence against the Austrian-Hapsburg rule in 1848 and 1849.
How did Hungary gain independence?
The Treaty of St. Germain recognized Hungary’s independence from Austria on September 10, 1919.
How to Observe Hungarian Republic Day
Visit the Hungarian Parliament
You can see the Hungarian Holy Crown and the Crown Jewels, which are displayed at the Parliament of Hungary. Usually, on this day, it is completely free to enter the parliament buildings.
Have a Hungarian Feast
Make some traditional Hungarian dishes and treat yourself and others to a delicious Hungarian feast. Some examples of Hungarian dishes include goulash, 'langos,' 'főzelék,' and 'somlói galuska'.
Read about Hungary’s history
To enhance your understanding of Hungarian history, read books about Hungary, including the events of 1956 and how Hungary got rid of the Russian troops. Some suggestions for books are, “A Concise History of Hungary” by Miklós Molnár, “A Will to Survive: A History of Hungary” by Bryan Cartledge, and “The Hungarians” by Paul Lendvai.
5 Astounding Facts About Hungarian Republic Day
The demand for withdrawal
The protestors demanded that the Soviet troops should withdraw and free elections should be held — Imre Nagy was appointed as the new Hungarian prime minister.
The toppling of the Stalin statue
On October 23, the protestors pulled down the Stalin statue that stood in Budapest’s Heroes Square.
Russian tanks shot protestors
On October 25, the Russians shot the protestors and almost 800 people were killed by Russian tanks.
Russians crushed the Hungarians
By November 1956, the Russian army had crushed the Hungarian fighters — 2,000 had died and 180,000 left Hungary.
The removal of Rákosi as the leader
In 1956, Mátyás Rákosi was forced to step down as the de facto leader of Hungary and was sent back to the Soviet Union.
Why We Observe Hungarian Republic Day
We respect Hungarians' determination
The Hungarian fighters and protestors were brave enough to stand against a powerful nation. They kept on fighting until the Soviets called for a ceasefire. It showed that they were united and determined in achieving their goals.
The Hungarians gained independence
Although the revolution failed, as an after-effect, the Hungarians were able to attain freedom from the Soviets. This is considered one of the most powerful events in the history of the 20th century.
The revolution grabbed the attention of the world
The revolution gained a lot of international attention, including from the United States. Since the protests and crackdowns occurred on the streets of Budapest, international attention was focused on the ongoing events in Hungary.
Hungarian Republic Day dates