Tomorrow, May 15 and moreover 16, Monday are public holidays. No shopping in Hungary unless you live next to a ”non-stop” grocery. It’s Pünkösd.

While Pentecost (Whitsun in England) is considered a religious holiday in the Western world, and most amusingly for us, Spring Bank Holiday in England to the joy of all school-children, it’s been a 2-day public holiday in Hungary since 1990 to the joy of all Hungarian employees. The two-syllable word PÜN – KÖSD is the Hungarian answer to our word borrowal practice, this time from the Greek πεντηκοστή (pentékoszté) – pent – PÜN – kostea – KÖSD pronounced with a ’zh’ due to assimilation.

PÜNKÖSD has three major connotations in Hungarian:

  • The Csíksomlyó Pünkösd Pilgrimage
  • The Pentecost King – someone whose sudden rise to power ends abruptly
  • The Pünkösdi Rózsa, the Pentecost rose, to put it in a prosaic way: peony

Erdély-Csíksomlyói-búcsú-webre-22-1024x768
The Csíksomlyó Pilgrimage
is the most peculiar and elevating Pentecost religious experience. If you have not come across this here are two sources, a Hungarian and a Romanian.

The story of the Pentecost King briefly is as follows: in bygone times in villages a guy was elected to be the Pentecost King for a year by winning skill games. For that period he enjoyed several privileges like being invited to all the weddings and he could go on tab in the local pub for a whole year and the community paid for all the booze he consumed. We still use the term for easy-come easy-go politicians and businessmen.

bordo_punkosdi_rozsa (1)However, my vote is for the ROSE. It’s mainly because if you hear ’pünkösdi rózsa’ the next line of the popular folk song comes to your mind ’kihajlott az útra’ (The peony hung out over the street). You normally stop there but I made some research and I discovered treasures. There are many variations of the song but the most beautiful and archaic version is the one I want to share with you. At my request, Paul Merrick, an excellent Liszt and Bartók expert living in Hungary did a wonderful translation of the whole lyrics which turned out to be a love-drama. At the same time I discovered a lovely bunch of young Hungarian musicians who perform the same song – the lyrics a bit different tough.

A Köztársaság Bandája is their name (The Band of the Republic)

In either way, if you devote 4 minutes of your precious time, you won’t regret it. Due to the PC rules set up by this forum I am not in a position to decode the hidden symbolic content of the song. Your guess.

The English and then the Hungarian text:

Pentecost Rose [Peony]

The peony hung out over the street

And the pole of my cart also stuck out.

I don’t know, my love, is it for good or bad,

For good or bad, or sadness till I die.

Sunday morning bright, I’ll go into the street,

Sunday morning bright, I’ll go into the street.

I’ll see my sweetheart, she’ll see me too,

I’ll see my sweetheart, she’ll see me too.

The peony blooms in the summer

The peony blooms in the summer.

And then my love will get married,

And then my love will get married.

Refr.

I don’t know, my love, is it for good or bad,

For good or bad, or sadness till I die.

 

The original Hungarian with an archaic touch:

THE ORIGINAL HUNGARIAN

A pünkösdi rózsa kihajlott az útra,

Nékem es kihajlott szekeremnek rúdja.

Nem tudom édesem, jóra-e, vaj rosszra,

Jóra-e, vaj rosszra, vaj holtig a bánatra.

Vasárnap jó reggel, kimenék az útra,

Vasárnap jó reggel, kimenék az útra.

Látám édesemet, s ő is láta engem,

Látám édesemet, s ő is láta engem.

A pünkösdi rózsa nyárba virágozik,

A pünkösdi rózsa nyárba virágozik.

És az én édesem akkor házasodik,

És az én édesem akkor házasodik.

Refr:

Nem tudom édesem, jóra-e, vaj rosszra,

Jóra-e, vaj rosszra, vaj holtig a bánatra.