Tuesday, 1 May 2012

May Day

May Day is, in most Eastern European countries, the only communist holiday that is still being celebrated -there are still people who work after all. Once the dictatorial regimes fell, the usual celebrations and marches were cancelled and communist monuments slowly disappeared from the cityscape- the monument erected in the memory of the Russian soldiers (whether they were liberators or oppressors varies depending on whom you ask) who died in WWII still stands in Szabadság square, causing a spot of bother for many Hungarians: a few years back the area was the scene of violent clashes between right wing protesters and police, and today the monument is cordoned off and under surveillance- though truth be said, you never know if the policeman casually strolling by is there to protect the monument, or the adjacent US Embassy. Hungarian folk traditions also keep some pagan elements in connection to the 1st of May: in many areas may trees are erected, decorated with coloured ribbons, flowers and sometimes food items, mostly as a gift from a young man to the woman they fancy. Similar spring welcoming festivities, like Walpurgisnacht or Bealtaine are widespread in the Germanic and Celtic areas of Europe, where warm  weather took a bit longer to arrive.

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