Young Hungary: Children of Hungary at work and at play, by Marianna Norris, 1970
This is my favorite of the three books I found in my local library. It's written as an explanation of a child's world in 1970 Hungary - past, present, and what they can expect for their futures. There's a bit of history, as it pertains to myths:
Hungarian Children love to hear stories about their ancestors, wild, free horsemen called the Magyars, who once roamed the plains of Asia (G: not the same as Huns - this is a Victorian revisionist mistake). The Magyars could shoot their arrows while standing up in the saddle at a full gallop. They were famous for their singing and storytelling, too. Through the years, their tribes moved slowly westward toward the heart of Europe. In the ninth century, when they came to the beautiful Danube River COuntry, they resolved to make it their own forever.
As American children learn about George Washington, Hungarian children learn about stephen, first King of Hungary, crowned in the year 1000. It was he who made the fierce Magyar tribesmen stop raiding their neighbors and settle down to farm the land of their own kingdom.
The northern hill country ends at Buda. Across the river, the vast Hungarian plain begins, stretching south and east as far as the eye can see. In summer, the tribes rallied on the flat side of the river. Days were long and hot and they called the place Pest (pronounced "Pesht"), which means "oven."
For a thousand years, almost every generation of Hungarian children ahs known war and teror. In 1241, Mongols devestated the country and killed half the population. At the battle of Mohacs, in 1526, the Turks destroyed an entire Hungarian army, then swept over the land to hold it for more than a century. (Hungarian boys still play "Turks and Hungarians" instead of "Cowboys and Indians".)
There's an explanation that Hungarian children are not so different from you - they like to go see what their parents do for a living, they play similar games (hide-and-seek is bujocska - boo-yoch-ka; "Inside the Lamb, outside the Wolf = Farmer in the Dell; Betyars and Pandurs = Cops and Robbers). Pitching marbles, mumblety-peg, wrestling. Gymnastics, in the Soviet Hungary, is not just for children. And building is not just for adults - teenagers built most of a stadium that seats 100,000.
"Sing, girls, sing!" That's what the foreman always tells the Tokay grape pickers. It's not that he loves music, but that they can't eat the grapes while they're singing!
Halas is famous for bobbin lace. Embroidery is common.
Gypsies are discussed, as is their separate language - "It is a poor country that has only one language" is attributed to King Stephen I (the saint).
Lake Balaton, Hungary's "inland sea" is presented as a recreation zone. Teenagers like to spelunk in caves. Soccer is very popular.
"Cra-a-ck!" The herdsman snaps his thirty-foot whip and the wiry gray horses thunder across the plain. This is the ancient art of the Hungarian herdsman - to control a herd of spirited horses with only the crack of his long, hand-braided whip. It's a proud day for a boy of the plains when he first finds strength in his wrist to crack the big whip.
Other products include: wheat, sugar beets, gray longhorn cattle, ancient breed of sheep, and pork. The children from these vast plains go to boarding schools, else they would not have a modern education at all. Apparently the children were also educated in the superiority of the Communist system - and this made for conflicts at home, since parents did not necessarily agree. In 1970! I always think of Communism as 'before my time', since it fell while I was still in grade school, but here's the proof. There's a bunch of pages explaining the benefits to education and healthcare, as well as the recognized arts - and I see children wearing proper glasses, but I also see them wearing coats with pants that have become too short.
Food: Goulash (onion and pepper beef stew), white Mako onions, Chicken paprika, stuffed cabbage, spareribs, salami, apple turnovers are listed as current favorites. But honey sits at the top, with bread, or bread and jam.
Common names: Ferenc = Frank. Endre = Andrew. Janos = John. Ilona, ZsaZsa for girls, Erzebet = Elizabeth. The dog is Ficko.
This book does the best job (of these three) of presenting Hungarian culture as something I want to experience for myself - as "elfelejthetetlen", or "unforgettable."