August 20 is a Hungarian national holiday named after the first king of Hungary, István (or Stephen). Hungary was founded in 1000 A.D. The August 20 holiday is the equivalent of the Fourth of July in the U.S. or Canada Day (July 1) in Canada. One of the highlights of this holiday is the fireworks display downtown on the banks of the Danube river. It is one of the most spectacular fireworks shows I’ve ever seen, and they expect huge crowds for this year’s show as usual – half a million people are expected to take in the fireworks live by the River! Hannah and Matthew both want to go, so I’ll be taking them while Tricia stays home with Jonathan.
The last time I went to the St. Stephen’s Day fireworks in 2006 with Hannah and another missionary friend who brought his son with him, we ended up running for cover five minutes after the show started when a huge storm (a supercell, actually) arrived right over downtown Budapest at that very moment. Hundreds up people were injured as a result of that event, and a few people died. Hannah apparently has gotten over the sheer terror of that experience, because she was jumping up and down at the prospect of taking in the fireworks today! I have also read that they now have a loudspeaker system in place to warn the public if there is a storm approaching. If there is any sign of a storm, we’ll be coming home early. However, the forecast is for beautiful weather all day today. Right now it’s a pleasant 24 degrees Celsius (75 F), with clear, blue skies. So we’re looking forward to a nice show tonight!