Hungarian Americans of Cleveland

Cleveland Press Articles

Harvest Noted By Hungarians With Parade, Dances

By Ethel Boros
Plain Dealer, Sep. 18 1967

An ancient Hungarian tradition was celebrated yesterday at St. Margaret of Hungary Roman Catholic Church, 2891 E. 116th Street.

It was the harvest festival, a combination of the grape and wheat festivals of old Hungary, an agricultural nation which used to thank God habitually for His bounty with these festivals.

The religious element is not so prominent in this contr. But the pastor of St. Margaret, the Rev. John Mundweil, welcomed the crowd at the beginning of the dance ceremonies and a little boy, speaking Hungarian, recited a poem of welcome.

THE START of the festival is always a parade of cars-gaily decorated with fruits, vegetables, wheat, leaves and artificial flowers-led by a car with a loudspeaker.

Some 40 cars yesterday swung into formation at the rectory under the eye of John Kasper, the parade marshal. The cars paraded for nearly an hour

Father Mundweil said: "It is the largest caravan we have ever had. Our former parishioners have spread to more than 30 suburbs of Cleveland. But they always come back for holidays and this festival, and they bring their children and grandchildren to take part ."

Muncie David Finnerty and her teen-age daughter, Maureen, trained the more than 100 dancers. The festival dances are group dances with traditional steps, usually done in a large circle.

AFTER the parade, the dancers performed in the St. Margaret School yard in five groups in costumes made by parents and grandparents. A few children displayed the heavily embroidered caps, vests and aprons of the Matyo district, imported from Hungary. Frank Borisz and his band played traditional music, beginning with the traditional harvest song, "The Black Grapes Are Ripe."

Mrs. Ilona Kolesar, 91, who was born in Budapest in 1876, was the oldest present.

After the first group of dances everybody headed for the church basement where an assortment of traditional Hungarian foods was served by the Ladies Guild.

THE DANCES were repeated in the evening in the basement hall, which was gaily decorated with harvest symbols, real grapes neatly stapled in small plastic bags, apples, plums, wheat and leaves.

The people are supposed to try to steal the grapes from the wires on which they hang. If they are caught by a warder they are taken before a judge.