While Laura and Emily were off exploring Old World Hungary, the rest of the design team went on our own inspiration trip to our local library. It was a really fun and inspiring trip. It was a great way for us to start making our own discoveries about the cultures of Old World Hungary. I hope it becomes a Tea tradition – so that each season we can start our inspiration process at the library.
I decided to research fine art of the region and discovered Nicolae Tonitza. I loved the painterly floral and leaf patterned backgrounds. The graphic dark circular eyes and dark line work is such an interesting contrast to the textural detail of the rest of the paintings. He had an impressive ability to communicate emotion through his paintings. There is such a sweet innocence in his paintings of children, while his paintings of older women are much more somber.
One of our readers and commenters recently told us about one of her favorite children’s book authors from Croatia – Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić. Although she passed away 1938 she is still considered to be one of Croatia’s most famous and well-loved writers for children. Born into a family of politicians and poets, Ivana homeschooled all six of her children, and became famous in 1913 for her book The Brave Adventures of Laptich. Croatian Tales of Long Ago was published in 1916 with huge success, which prompted Ivana’s nickname – “The Croatian Andersen” (in reference to Hans Christian Andersen). The stories are original, but reference characters and themes from traditional Slavic mythology.
In 2002 and 2003 an animation artist named Helena Bulaja decided to adapt some of the Croatian Tales of Long Ago into a web animation project. In her words: “The digital revolution, the Internet, and modern communications are on one side, and the world of fairytales on the other…the concept of the interactive book is so open, and unlike film, theatre, or illustration, it can take almost any form, it can be a film, an illustration, a game…” The website is a little dated, but the animation is stunning, such as in Yagor below:
This is part of an ongoing blog series exploring children’s literature and folk tales from the regions of Hungary, Romania, and Croatia. Do you have any recommendations? If so please feel free to leave a comment below.
Today is a Hungarian national holiday, celebrating St. Stephen I, Hungary’s patron saint and First King (between 1000 and 1038 AD). Through his powerful role as King he helped to establish the Kingdom of Hungary, so August 20th, while commemorating his life, also celebrates the birth of Hungary. During the Soviet occupation of Hungary St. Stephen’s day was dismissed as being “too religious”, and was replaced with a celebration of the Stalinist constitution, as well as a “celebration of new bread”, referring to the beginning of the harvest.
Modern day Budapest celebrates St. Stephen’s Day with fireworks, air shows, and outside fairs, with stands selling bread and cakes.
This season we happen to be carrying a shirt that references King Stephen’s reign – our Knights Double Decker Tee was inspired by the Knights of King Stephen’s army:
Have you ever been in Hungary during St. Stephen’s Day? Did you celebrate it as a child? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.