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Week in the Life of the Hungarian Diaspora: Winter Folk Dance Camp, Márai Memorial Event and Pannonia Ball

Fanni Kaszás 2019.03.02.

In our recurring Week in the life of the Hungarian Diaspora series, we’ll be looking back at recent events and exploring the Kőrösi Csoma Sándor Program’s many success stories.

The Kőrösi program helps ethnic communities retain their national identity and strengthens the ties between Hungary and Hungarian communities worldwide by offering Hungarian language courses and providing access to cultural activities with the help of Kőrösi scholarship holders.

Bokréta winter dance camp in Montreal

For 20 years, members of the North American Folk Dance Community have gathered in Montreal in February to partake in a folk dance camp. This year, for three days, participants learned dances from the Mezőség and Vajdaszentivány under the leadership of Enikő Kocsis and Dezső Fitos. Children got acquainted with the folk rhythms and dances in the children’s dance house. This year, the 50-year-old Bokréta Dance Ensemble opened the Vajdaszentivány event with a gala show. The music was provided by Levente and Albert Fazakas and Lóránd Szabó as well as members of the Gyanta band.

Sándor Márai memorial event in San Diego

Among other things, San Diego and Hungary are connected by one of the most important Hungarian poet-writers of the twentieth century, Sándor Márai, who spent the remaining years of his life in the city. Hungarians living in San Diego had a memorial plaque made in Márai’s honor, his books can be found in the library of the Hungarian House, and every year, various programs are organized in connection with him. However, this year, the Hungarian community organized a special event in honor of the 30th anniversary of the author’s death on the 21st of February. On the afternoon of February 23, more than 50 Hungarians gathered in the Hungarian House in San Diego to watch the evening-long program put on by Tibor Mészáros, Márai expert and István Hirtling, Mari Jászai award-winner actor. The event consisted of readings and movie sequences followed by a standing ovation. At the end of the evening, attendees were given the opportunity to discuss Márai with the organizers.

Varjos Band concert and dance house in Vienna

A Varjos Band concert and dance house was organized on February 15 in Vienna by the Délibáb Hungarian Cultural Association. The band, originally from Upper Hungary, hails from the historical northern part of the Kingdom of Hungary and held a concert called “Date by the river Garam.” Transylvanian tunes and gypsy songs were also featured in the show. The Varjos Orchestra was founded in the autumn of 2003 in Párkány (Sturovo) and is passionate about presenting the Carpathian Basin’s folk culture via twentieth century folk music and their own experiences. Before the concert, children had the opportunity to take part in a children’s dance house and create traditional Hungarian artifacts at an arts and crafts workshop.

Pannonia Ball at Fairfield

On February 23, the Pannonia American Hungarian Club presented the 66th grand annual Café Budapest event to over 100 guests. The Fairfield-based nonprofit organization was founded in 1950 for charitable, cultural and educational purposes. The lakeside complex in Monroe opened its hall at 7 o’clock in the evening and came equipped with a cocktail hour and an open bar. The Chairman of the Pannonia Club, Valéria Miklós, opened the ceremony followed by speeches given by the Consul of New York, Dr. Imre Szakács and Claudia Margitay Balogh. A scholarship named after Margitay Balogh’s son, Justin Margitay Balogh, was awarded to students of Hungarian descent during the ball. The commission chooses the recipients of the scholarship based on how much energy the applicants have invested in the social life of the Hungarian community.

Last sitting of the ’56 Memorial Committee in Paris

After the defeat of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, Hungarian freedom fighters who fled to the West and received political asylum rights established the Hungarian Freedom Fighter Association in Paris in 1957. In 1999, they continued their work under a new name: the French-Hungarian Memorial Committee of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. On February 24, 2019, Jenő Sujánszky, the founding president of the Memorial Committee, called for a final meeting of its members. Since the committee’s attempts to rejuvenate the organization failed, the association was dissolved after 62 years of hard work. Some of the Committee’s responsibilities — such as wreathing the Unknown Soldier’s grave and lighting the Eternal Light — will be taken over by the Hungarian Embassy in Paris. The Hungarian Catholic Mission will begin wreathing Cardinal József Mindszenty’s memorial plaque and Imre Nagy’s symbolic grave at the Pére Lachaise cemetery.

featured photo: Bokréta Hungarian Folk Ensemble Facebook