HAW Holiday (Hun National Day)
At the end of the 10th century Prince Géza, descendant of conquering chieftain Arpad, in a move designed to safeguard his people who at that time lived within a nomadic, tribal clan structure, carrying out plundering raids and worshipping pagan gods, concluded an alliance with Holy Roman Emperor Otto I and sought to develop links with Christianity.
Géza's son, Vajk, was baptized and given the name Stephen. He continued his father's policies and had himself crowned king at Christmas in the year 1000. In a move of particular significance Stephen asked Pope Sylvester II to send a crown from Rome, which request the pope duly complied with. This was a public declaration that Hungary wished to ally itself with Western Christianity. Stephen developed a highly centralized state administration, established the county structure on West European lines, and founded bishoprics and independent archiepiscopates (Kalocsa and Esztergom). Christianity, private ownership, public order and morality were protected by a series of strict laws. He did much to encourage the propagation of culture and learning, and considered it particularly important for Hungary to be fully receptive to new ideas, and tolerant of other people. At the time of his death in 1038 Hungary was a viable, strong and independent country drawing closer to Western societies.
King Stephen was canonized in 1083, from which date Hungarians have remembered their great ruler on 20 August, St. Stephen's Day. The mummified right hand of the founder of the state is preserved in St. Stephen's Basilica, Budapest. The respect in which this relic is held remains strong to this very day.