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Hungary celebrates national holiday
Last Updated: 2014-08-21 02:00 | Xinhua
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Hungarian President Janos Ader (1st R) delivers a speech in Kossuth square in front of the Hungarian Parliament building to celebrate Hungarian national holiday in Budapest, Hungary, on Aug. 20, 2014. (Xinhua/Attila Volgyi)

Hungary celebrated its biggest national holiday on Wednesday, Saint Stephen's Day, in honor of the founding king of Hungary Stephen I with a series of events, civil, military, and religious.

Many of the festivities involved the military, including the official oath of office of newly graduated officers in the armed forces.

The new officers took their oath in front of the parliament on Wednesday morning in a pouring rain. In the presence of President Janos Ader and Parliament Speaker Laszlo Kover, Defense Minister Csaba Hende addressed the new officers.

Saying that the world had not become any more peaceful or foreseeable in recent years, Hende warned that all military forces must be ready for action to ensure the country's freedom.

Ader also spoke, noting that a thousand years of history had demonstrated that Hungarians had to count on themselves as their own advocates and that often their interests were tied to those of others.

He pointed to Hungary's links to the west and said that independence was not a gift but a priceless treasure which must be fought for by each and every generation.

Other events included a presentation of the country's highest award, the Order of Saint Stephen, to Nobel Laureate author Imre Kertesz and Rubik's Cube inventor Erno Rubik.

In the afternoon a religious procession walked through downtown Budapest, led by church dignitaries carrying the mummified right hand of Stephen I.

In yet another significant event a loaf of bread was presented to the public -- the first bread baked with 2014 grain. The symbolism of the successful harvest is a major component of this holiday.

Other holiday celebrations included a fair in the Medieval Fortress of Buda and along the Danube River, with craftsmen offering traditional ceramic, wooden, felt, and other products. Visitors also had the chance to taste traditional foods from the various regions of Hungary as well as the new bread.

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