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Useful Notes / Hungary

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"Are you hungry?"
—Usual foreign reaction to any question regarding Hungary

Hungary (in Hungarian Magyarország) is a country located in Central and Eastern Europe. Not a land with a hunger problem, it's known as Magyarország by those who are from there.

Most important things are covered by The Other Wiki, so there is just some basic info here.

Brief history:

  • Hungarians arrived at the land which would become Hungary at the end of the 9th century, but they did not find it empty. They were your typical nomads, expert in horsemanship and archery, making raids in the relative vicinity. This, and the nomadic style becoming obsolete, of course caused everyone to look at them as a threat, leading to some necessary changes.
  • Namely, about 1000, King St. Stephen (Szent István király) founded a proper kingdom to be taken seriously, also starting the Christianization of the country. This kingdom lasted mostly independently until the 16th century without many serious incidents. The most notable exception were for the part when the Mongol attacks of 1241-1242, which wiped out a sizeable chunk of the country. This necessitated a rebuild that got the king presiding over it the moniker "second founder of the homeland".
    • One Hungarian national symbol is a crown with a wonky cross on top. This is thought to be St. Stephen's crown. How the cross got bent is a matter of heated academic debate. A folk tale depicts King Mathias hitting the cross with a shovel, when he was startled by the angels trying to crown him. The real explanation is likely that it was damaged while hidden from one of Hungary's conquerors.
  • Since the 14th century, the country had skirmishes and large scale battles with the Ottoman Empire. That ended with an invasion of part of Hungary in 1541. The country was torn into three parts, one controlled by the Ottoman Empire, one by Habsburg Austria and one part into Transylvania, a small country balanced between the other two, mainly for protection.
  • In the 17th century, the Ottomans were defeated by the Habsburgs, who reunited the three parts under their rule. To say that the relationship between the Hungarians and the Austrians has had its ups and downs is one way of putting it.
  • This led to two large revolutions. Let's just say there were major cooperation errors between the Habsburgs and the Hungarian nobility (even though there were factions that sided with them). The one in 1848-49 led to the export of some fine military leaders to Europe and America (ever wondered from where the fire lord Kossuth comes or what is the meaning of the K. in Jerome K. Jerome?)
  • After some intense peacemaking, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was born. This was also thanks to the influence of Austrian Empress/Queen Consort of Hungary, Elisabeth of Wittelsbach aka Sisi, who adored Hungary so much that she spent more time in Hungarian lands than in Vienna itself. This lasted until the end of the First World War, when about three-quarters of the country were divided between the neighboring countries, leaving large ethnic Hungarian minorities there. This is known as the Treaty of Trianon and is the source of intense flame wars in Hungary even to this day, not to mention some serious conflicts with the neighbors. Thing is, the Entente did the splitting intentionally, with two goals: making Hungary unable to effectively go to war ever again, and giving the new states of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, as well as the enlarged Romania, a common enemy in revanchist Hungary, thus facilitating their cooperation with each other (the "Little Entente") and making them dependent on France to guarantee their sovereignty in the face of renewed Hungarian, German, or Soviet aggression.
  • As a result, Hungary developed a severe case of Fascism, sided with the losing side again in World War II (though they tried to jump ship when things started to really go south, it only helped Hungary being treated with mistrust by both the Germans and the approaching Soviets) and became Commie Land after the war. The era and its more dubious aspects still inspire heated debates and flame wars today.
  • The '50s were a tough decade, as the Communists pulled out all the stops in consolidating and keeping power. Most people weren't too happy, which led to the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. The Soviets crushed it in a matter of days.
    • This also resulted in a bit of a conundrum for absent sportsmen (as in, do they return or find a way to stay in the West?), as this was the year of the Summer Olympics in Melbourne, which were starting/ongoing around this time. Special note should go to the Men's Water Polo semifinals with Hungary vs the Soviet Union, aka, the Blood in the Water match (or Melbourne Bloodbath as known in Hungarian), where Hungary won 4-0 despite one of the Soviet players clocking one of the Hungarian ones badly enough to cause a nasty gash above the eye, which bled quite a lot.
  • After 1956, Hungary went through some more low-key reforms, and became ironically known as "the happiest barracks in the camp", under "Goulash Communism". It was also during this time that they had a really, really good football team; they won three Olympic gold medals, but sadly never won a World Cup (losing the 1954 final to West Germany in a match known in Germany as "The Miracle in Bern"). note 
  • Following the Soviet collapse, Hungary became a democracy and a member of NATO and The European Union. Since 2010, the current government is led by the conservative right Fidesznote , which despite many unpopular (and some obviously nepotistic) policies, managed to acquire supermajority and even retain it for their second term. Though some gerrymandering may have been involved, and the supermajority was lost a few months into their second term due to interim municipal elections). The party's PM Viktor Orbán is still the most popular politician among the increasingly politically apathetic citizenry. In recent years, Hungary has experienced a geopolitical shift eastward, making a series of economic cooperation treaties with Russia and China in response to many of the government's economic policies sparking controversy and condemnation from Brussels, coupled with a major bribery scandal that saw multiple high-ranking Hungarian government officials being declared persona non grata in the United States.
    • The Socialist Party (the legal successor of the state party from the Communist era) gained back some popularity in The '90s and the early 2000s. It became Fidesz's primary opponent, but it lost face between 2006 and 2008 from a political scandal of epic proportions. Since then, the political left in Hungary has been bleeding from countless wounds; numerous leftist parties formed, both by former socialist politicians and by new faces, resulting in the Hungarian political left being too fragmented to pose much threat to Fidesz. Yet these are all eclipsed by nationalist far-right party Jobbiknote  which exploded out of nowhere to get a parliament seat in the 2010 elections, steadily increasing its popular support to the point where it acquired a seat in the European Parliament, won the 2015 interim municipal election that resulted in Fidesz being one representative short of a supermajority for the first time since 2010 and as of 2016 are considered Fidesz' primary contender in place of the socialists, even with every other party in the country (and most EP representatives) collectively refusing to cooperate with Jobbik out of concern for their far-right leaning. In the past years, Jobbik carried out repeated purges of its more radical elements in an attempt to make themselves more palatable to those who are put off by their nationalism (they had picked up a reputation as not just far-right but neo-fascist, something they desperately want to shed). Unlike Fidesz and the leftists who maintained their core voter base within the pensioner-age generation that brought them to power in 1989, Jobbik's voters are mostly below the age of 30.
    • The country is also still reeling from an economic crisis: although it didn't reach the sort of severity seen in Greece or Spain, it came too close for comfort. In the latest years the economy shows an annual ~3% GDP growth. Additionally, several companies and even a bank had recently left the country due to an ongoing wave of nationalization in the economy.


  • Hungary's landlocked, with the 2 biggest rivers dividing it into three huge regions- Transdanubia (beyond the Danube), Between-Danube-and-Tisza, and Transtisza (beyond the Tisza).
  • Transdanubia has the highest ratio of hills of the three, almost all of it being more or less hilly, except for the Small Plains found in the northwest and some swaths of plains between the Danube, the Transdanubian Hills, Balaton and Mecsek.
  • Balaton, that big lake, deserves its own mention- it's the biggest lake in all of Central Europe. It's sometimes called "the Hungarian sea" jokingly.
  • The areas east of the Danube are mostly all flatland, called the Great Plains or just The Plains, except for the Northern Hungarian Hills, which features the highest point in Hungary (Kékestető, at a measly 1014 m).
  • Also bears mentioning is that the country, especially Transdanubia and the capital Budapest, have loads of geothermal energy in the form of hot springs which have been made use of by spas, and a huge lake that is all natural thermal water, called Hévíz (literally the term for "geo-thermal water").note 

Language and culture:

  • The Hungarian language is part of the Finno-Ugric grouping of the Uralic family and related only to Finnish, Estonian and the Sámi languages in Europe, as well as several minority languages in the European part of Russia. In fact, the two languages that are most closely related to Hungarian, Khanty and Mansi, are spoken in the Asian part of Russia. This makes it ideal for Fun with Foreign Languages or As Long as It Sounds Foreign. Check out the homepage in Hungarian. All the dialogue in Sine Mora is in Hungarian.
  • The word "Hungarian" has nothing to do with the Huns. That's a rather wishful Retcon from the 13th century.
    • Actually it is a bastardization of the external name, onoğur (which is a Turkic term meaning ten tribes) and was never used by the Hungarians themselves - magyar being the local version. See German Ungarisch, French hongrois. Initially the association of the Hungarians with Huns (possibly a direct result of said bastardization) was intended to be insulting (as the Magyar people were widely seen by Western Europe as barbarians just like the Huns), eventually the Hungarians decided they liked the idea on the basis that the Huns were powerful and feared.
    • On the other hand, it's a popular theory that the French words hongrois and ogre are etymologically related - in The Middle Ages, Western cultures presumably viewed the nomadic Hungarians as monstrous barbarians, naming a fictional monster after them.
  • Family name first. Yes, there are massive inconsistencies with the ordering of Japanese and Chinese names, since most people are not aware that these cultures share the same naming order. note 
    • How exactly Hungary, which is geographically and culturally so far removed from other parts of the world that use this name order, came to place family name first is something that's been lost to history. note 
      • Keep in mind the epithets and attributes of rulers and various personages (great, tall, elder, younger, lackland...), as well as their "numbering", also precede their given names in Hungarian (as well as dropping the article, i.e., the, where English, German, French, etc. might use it in these situations).
  • Following the same logic of putting more general concepts first and more specific concepts last, dates are written in the order year-month-day and addresses are written in the order postcode, town, street name, house number.
  • All pronouns are gender-neutral and there's no grammatical gender, which simplifies things a lot; on the other hand, the language is agglutinative so it uses a metric fuckton of inflections.
    • The latter makes Hungarian an excellent language for cursing the hell out of someone when used by a verbally creative person. Kinda like French in this regard...
    • Its agglutinative nature means that Hungarian-speakers can construct entirely new words on the spot, and there is no upper limit on how long a word can get. For instance, "fiaiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéi" is a grammatically correct Hungarian word, but it can't be translated to English without context.note  A common form of Hungarian wordplay is taking a relatively short word and tacking an unreasonable amount of prefixes and suffixes onto it while still keeping it meaningful; a famous example is "megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért".note 
  • Alien Among Us: Hungarian scientists were jokingly referred as Martians during their stay in the States. Did somebody taking this joke out of context spawn the idea that space aliens were giving us their technology? Who knows. Since there were a lot of Jews in Hungary, and Hungary was a Nazi puppet state during World War II, there were understandably quite a lot of Hungarian Jewish scientists (and frequently their Christian colleagues) heading to America. The most famous are the (highly eccentric) mathematicians John von Neumann and Paul Erdős (Neumann János and Erdős Pál in Hungarian) and the (batshit insane) nuclear physicist Edward Teller (Teller Ede). Another famous Hungarian Jew in the sciences is Andrew Grove (Gróf András), who fled to the States during the 1956 revolution and went on to co-found semiconductor giant Intel.
  • GulaschSuppe: The single most famous Hungarian dish, mostly written exactly like that for foreigners. In Hungarian it is gulyásleves. In English it's called "goulash", though in North America the word refers to a totally different dish.
  • Hungarian has given the world some famous composers, including Franz Liszt and Béla Bartók. Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody" (particular the second movement) is instantly recognizable from its use in so many cartoons.
  • The most famous Hungarian actor of all time is Bela Lugosi, best known as the most iconic Dracula on film. The most famous Hungarian actress of all time is Zsa Zsa Gabor.
  • The most famous Hungarian soccer player is Puskás Öcsinote , captain of the Golden Team, Hungary's wildly successful and almost deified to this day football/soccer team from the Fifties (people still go on about the Curb-Stomp Battle this team gave England, beating them first at Wembley (England 3, Hungary 6) then in Hungary (Hungary 7, England... 1).
  • Another famous sports personage with a stadium in Budapest named after him is boxer Papp László (aka Papp Laci), famously left-handed as an adage attributed to him goes: "My right hand, that's the Rókus Hospital, and my left, that's the graveyard."
  • Tennis great Monica Seles is ethnically Hungarian, although she never lived in the country, being part of the historic Hungarian minority in modern-day Serbia.
  • Another all-time sporting great who's an ethnic Hungarian is American volleyball legend Karch Kiraly,note  the only person ever to win Olympic gold medals (or, for that matter, medals of any color) in both indoor and beach volleyball (indoor in 1984 and 1988, beach in 1996). His father fled Hungary for the US during the 1956 revolution.
  • Also ethnically Hungarian, but born in Romania: Gymnast Szabo Katalin, a multi-medal-winning Olympian and world champion several times over. She's better known to history as Ecaterina Szabo; her name was changed by the Communist government to try hide her background for political reasons.
  • The most famous Hungarian person of all time may very well be Harry Houdini.note 
  • Judith Barsi was also ethnically Hungarian as both her parents had emigrated to the USA following the 1956 Soviet invasion.
  • On a darker note, another well-known Hungarian is the infamous "Blood Countess" Elizabeth Báthory, a pre-modern Serial Killer who was active during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. According to some legends, she also drained her victims of their blood so that she could bathe in it, believing that it held the secret to eternal youth. Her reputation has left a lasting influence on Gothic Horror and vampire lore.
  • Hungary is also the birthplace of mathemetician Ernő Rubik, and his invention, the eponymous Cube.
  • Stephen Colbert almost had one of the main bridges named after him on the Danube. Hell, everyone in the country voted for him in the online poll. 1.7 times.
  • Former Hungarian Ambassador to the United States András Simonyi plays a mean guitar.
  • "Pole and Hungarian are two brothers, they fight and drink together." There's even a Day of Polish-Hungarian friendship in both countries. (March 23rd, in case you wondered.)
    • To confused non-Magyars/non-Poles: "Poles and Hungarians are brothers, they fight and drink together" (loosely translated) is a short rhyme in both Polish and Hungarian, and a symbol of the traditional good relations between the two countries.
      • The alliance dates back to the 11th century, when Béla the Boxer, following the execution of his father, took refuge in Poland. He married king Mieszko Lambert's daughter, and their sons Géza and László were born in Cracow. In 1060 Béla, supported by his Polish allies, defeated his brother Andrew and became the new king of Hungary.
    • Said traditional good relations included help from the Poles in the 1848-49 revolution and in the 1956 one too.
    • Somewhat more unsettlingly, it was a Hungarian (the aforementioned batshit-crazy Edward Teller) and a Pole (Stanisław Ulam) living in America who came up with the first design for the hydrogen bomb. To be fair, the Russian Andrei Sakharov had the same idea independently almost immediately afterward (which is why the H-bomb is called the "Teller-Ulam Design" in the West but "Sakharov's Third Idea" in the former Soviet bloc). On the other hand, while Ulam and Sakharov later forswore nuclear research (and Sakharov became an anti-nuclear campaigner note ), Teller started advocating ever more deadly weapons (he was the one who convinced the US Air Force to seriously pursue the H-bomb in the first place), including the notorious "Star Wars" anti-missile system in The '80s. Like we said, batshit.
  • Hungary and Austria meanwhile have what can be best described as a Vitriolic Best Buds relationship with all its ups and downs. Despite whatever bad blood was spilled over the centuries, such as in the 1848-49 revolts, ties between the two peoples still remain close if quiet.
    • The best example to that (apart from some Hungarians still calling Austrians "brothers-in-law" in jest) is when in the 2010s, one year Hungary had a freak snowstorm on March 15th (after weeks of spring-ish weather), grinding huge parts of the country to a gridlock. Austria sent help to deal with the situation. What's so special about this? Well the date just so happens to be the anniversary of the day the aforementioned revolution in 1848 started.
  • On the other hand, Hungarians and Romanians don't exactly get along that well. A centuries-long dispute over rightful ownership of Transylvania (with all the attendant Misplaced Nationalism and abusive historical Ret Cons), the fact that it was settled by the Trianon treaty at the small price of having Hungary lose 72% of its territory (but surprisingly only about a third of its ethnically Hungarian population, since the majority of the population of Transylvania actually was ethnically Romanian according to all censuses of the Austro-Hungarian Empire), something that Hungarians can be a bit bitter about, and a Curb Stomp War in 1919 with a side helping of Romanian occupation, plundering (in retaliation for the Central Powers doing the same thing during WW1) and harsh armistice terms didn't help.
    • Important note: don't confuse Budapest (capital of Hungary) with Bucharest (capital of Romania) in earshot of the locals of either place. They tend to get... twitchy.
      • In 2013, Bucharest—which tends to get the worst of this exchange on account of being lesser-known—launched a Bucharest Not Budapest touristic ad campaign to get people to learn the difference. This included a "Welcome to Not Bucharest" billboard on the main road out of Budapest-Franz Liszt International Airport.
      • Easy way to remember the difference: Bucharest has an "R" in its name, and it belongs to the country that starts with an R: Romania.
    • Hungary and Slovakia are also on quite bad terms, for similar reasons as Romania. Long story short, there's a lot of bad blood in the Carpathian Basin.
    • Additionally, Hungary also has bad historical relations with Serbianote . An improvement was made in the last couple of years, with presidents of Hungary and Serbia developing quite cordial relations.
  • Hungarian characters in foreign works rarely have authentic Hungarian namesnote , the writers usually settle for Slavic or German cognates. The reason for this is partly writers not doing the research, but also that foreigners often find Hungarian writing/pronunciation very confusing.
  • Reported incidents of seizing vital regions are somewhat exaggerated.
    • The Yaoi Fangirl reputation, though, seems to stem from Hungary's reputation for porn and sexual prowess.
  • In Disney's The Rescuers, Miss Bianca represents Hungary, the home country of her voice actress Eva Gabor (sister of the aforementioned Zsa Zsa Gabor). Which is why her name is Italian. Though that was because it was her name in the books.
    • Not to mention, Bianka (note the spelling) does exist as a name in Hungarian and is pronounced the same way as in Italian.
  • Hungarian cinema, though not so well-known as other countries', has produced its share of internationally acclaimed works. Notable directors include Miklos Jancso (The Red and the White), Istvan Szabo (Colonel Redl) and Béla Tarr (Sátántangó). Additionally, several giants of British (namely the Korda Brothers and Emeric Pressburger) and American cinema (directors George Cukor and Michael Curtiz, cinematographers Laszlo Kovacs and Ernest Laszlo, screenwriter Joe Eszterhas and composer Miklos Rozsa) were Hungarians, along with Bela Lugosi.
  • The town of Sopron (Ödenburg in German) along the Austrian border is notable for being the only portion of what is now known as the Austrian state of Burgenland that remained Hungarian following a plebiscite at the end of World War I (and subsequent dissolution of Austria-Hungary), despite the ethnic makeup of the city being majority German/Austrian at the time. As a result, it's since been called Civitas Fidelissima or "The Most Loyal Town." The area is also the site of the Pan-European Picnic in 1989note  and is known among Austrians for cheap dentistry.

See also:

The Hungarian Flag
The red, white and green colors derive from the coat of arms; popular folklore (eventually made official in the 2012 constitution) attaches to the colors the meanings of strength, faithfulness and hope, respectively.

Coat of arms of Hungary
The coat of arms has elements that goes way back to the Middle Ages. The shield has two parts: The dexter (right side from the bearer's point) features the so-called Árpád stripes, four Argent (silver) and four Gules (red) stripes. Traditionally, the silver stripes represent four rivers: Duna (Danube), Tisza, Dráva, and Száva and t he sinister (left side from the bearer's point) consists of an Argent (silver) double cross on Gules (red) base, situated inside a small Or (golden) crown, the crown is placed on the middle heap of three Vert (green) hills, representing the mountain ranges (trimount) Tátra, Mátra, and Fátra (made up of the Greater Fatra and Lesser Fatra ranges). Atop the shield rests the Holy Crown of St. Stephen (Stephen I of Hungary, István király), a crown that remains in the Parliament building (Országház) in Budapest today.

The Hungarian national anthem

Isten, áldd meg a magyart
Jó kedvvel, bőséggel,
Nyújts feléje védő kart,
Ha küzd ellenséggel;
Bal sors akit régen tép,
Hozz rá víg esztendőt,
Megbűnhődte már e nép
A múltat s jövendőt!

Őseinket felhozád
Kárpát szent bércére,
Általad nyert szép hazát
Bendegúznak vére.
S merre zúgnak habjai
Tiszának, Dunának,
Árpád hős magzatjai

Értünk Kunság mezein
Ért kalászt lengettél,
Tokaj szőlővesszein
Nektárt csepegtettél.
Zászlónk gyakran plántálád
Vad török sáncára,
S nyögte Mátyás bús hadát
Bécsnek büszke vára.

Hajh, de bűneink miatt
Gyúlt harag kebledben,
S elsújtád villámidat
Dörgő fellegedben,
Most rabló mongol nyilát
Zúgattad felettünk,
Majd töröktől rabigát
Vállainkra vettünk.

Hányszor zengett ajkain
Ozmán vad népének
Vert hadunk csonthalmain
Győzedelmi ének!
Hányszor támadt tenfiad
Szép hazám, kebledre,
S lettél magzatod miatt
Magzatod hamvvedre!

Bújt az üldözött, s felé
Kard nyúlt barlangjában,
Szerte nézett s nem lelé
Honját a hazában,
Bércre hág és völgybe száll,
Bú s kétség mellette,
Vérözön lábainál,
S lángtenger fölette.

Vár állott, most kőhalom,
Kedv s öröm röpkedtek,
Halálhörgés, siralom
Zajlik már helyettek.
S ah, szabadság nem virúl
A holtnak véréből,
Kínzó rabság könnye hull
Árvánk hő szeméből!

Szánd meg Isten a magyart
Kit vészek hányának,
Nyújts feléje védő kart
Tengerén kínjának.
Bal sors akit régen tép,
Hozz rá víg esztendőt,
Megbűnhődte már e nép
A múltat s jövendőt!
God, bless the Hungarian
With good mood and prosperity,
Extend to him a guarding arm
When he struggles with his foes;
To those long torn by ill fate
Bring a cheerful year,
This people has already paid for the sins
Of the past and future!

You brought our ancestors up
Over the Carpathians' holy peaks
Through You, a fair homeland was won
By the bloodline of Bendeguz
And wherever roars the foam of
The Tisza and the Danube,
The seeds of the hero Árpád
Come to full flower.

For us, on the meadows of the Cuman land,
You made ripe ears of grain sway,
On the vines of Tokaj
You dripped sweet nectar.
Our flag you often planted
On the wild Turk's rampart,
And so groaned under Mátyás' dark host
The proud castle of Vienna.

Ah, but for our sins
Anger gathered in Your bosom
And as you dispatched Your lightning
In Your thundering heavens,
Now the plundering Mongol's arrows
You let hum above us,
Then from the Turk, a captive's yoke
We took upon our shoulders.

How often came from the lips
Of Osman's wild people
Atop our beaten host's corpse piles
A victorious song!
How often did your own son aggress,
My fair homeland, upon your breast,
And you became, because of your offspring,
Your own offspring's funeral urn!

The fugitive hid, and towards him
A sword reached, in his cave,
Looking al about, he could not find
His home in the homeland;
He climbs the peak, descends the valley,
Sorrow and doubt along with him,
A deluge of blood at his feet,
A sea of flame above him.

A castle stood, now a heap of stones
Happiness and joy fluttered away,
Death groans, weeping
Now sound in their place.
And Ah! Freedom does not bloom
From the blood of the dead,
Torturous slavery's tears fall
From the burning eyes of our orphan!

Pity, O Lord, the Hungarian,
Who is tossed about by calamity,
Extend to him a guarding arm
On the sea of his suffering,
To those long torn by ill fate
Bring a cheerful year,
This people has already paid for the sins
Of the past and future!

  • Unitary parliamentary republic
    • President: Katalin Novák
    • Prime Minister: Viktor Orbán
    • Speaker of the National Assembly: László Kövér

  • Capital and largest city: Budapest
  • Population: 9,730,000
  • Area: 93,030 km² (35,920 sq mi) (108th)
  • Currency: Hungarian forint (Ft) (HUF)
  • ISO-3166-1 Code: HU
  • Country calling code: 36
  • Highest point: Kékes (1014 m/3,327 ft) (160th)
  • Lowest point: Tisza (76 m/249 ft) (51st)