Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Two good friends": The Pole and the Hungarian

In the spirit of friendship, 100 Years in America joins What's Past is Prologue in celebrating Polish-American Heritage Month.

The Polish and Hungarian people have long been friendly with each other. Although not immediate neighbors (Slovakia lies between their two borders), the special relationship that the two countries share is known throughout Europe.

Poles and Hungarians, 17th-century
Muzeum Książąt Czartoryskich Kraków

For the past seven centuries, Poles and Hungarians have been on good terms. So much so that a famous Polish leader came from a Hungarian noble family, and several Hungarian kings have had Polish roots. The legendary friendship of the two peoples inspired a well-known proverb that is still in use today.

In Hungarian it reads:
"Lengyel, magyar két jóbarát, együtt harcol s issza borát.”
In Polish it reads:
"Polak, Węgier, dwa bratanki, i do szabli, i do szklanki.”
These translate roughly:
"Pole, Hungarian: Two good friends, they fight and drink their wine together." (In Hungarian)

"Pole, Hungarian: Two brothers, both for saber, and for drinking glass." (In Polish)
In 2007 the countries' friendly relationship was marked by the declaration of the special Day of Polish & Hungarian Friendship to be celebrated in both countries every March 23. (Read more in Hungarian or Polish.)

I have long been an admirer of Polish culture and would love to have a little bit of Polish heritage myself.

My great-grandfather, a Croatian resident of Hungary in the late 19th-century, included Polish among the collection of languages that he spoke. Maybe this is a hint that there is a Polish branch of the family that I have yet to discover!

Whether or not this is the case, I am proud to celebrate Polish-American Heritage Month here at 100 Years in America.

For more on Polish heritage and culture, visit Donna Pointkouski's What's Past is Prologue for the Polish History and Culture Challenge.


  1. Lisa,

    I LOVE it. Yes, a good friend is truly one that fights by your side and drinks wine with you! What a cool saying.

    Who knows...you just might find your Polish genes after all. I really doubt I am Hungarian, but my niece, nephew, and one on the way are fully one-quarter Hungarian so I get to share in Hungarian heritage and culture through them (and their Grandpop of Hungarian descent who makes a mean goulash...).


  2. Szia! Hi!

    I liked your posting. Just to add a few deatils: yes, it's true that these days Hungary and Poland are not immediate neighbours, but they were for a few hundred years! From the Honfoglalás (896 A.D.) till the trianon pact (1918 A.D.), for more than 1000 years, they were indeed neighbours. :-)

    Then we have had common kings, queens, saints, monks (the pálos order), love for takaji wine, etc.

    So, the bonds are deep and lasting!


    Gyorgy Ujlaki

  3. Thanks very much to each of you for your comments, Donna, Jutka and Gyorgy.

    Here's to many more centuries of friendship between the Polish and Hungarian people!



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