A true Hungarian never clinks his beer

A true Hungarian never clinks his beer

2 1 year ago

First of all, a crash course in Hungarian history: after 150 years of union with Austria, Hungarian youth and politicians started a new course of politics. This quickly led to a for freedom from the Habsburg rule and a short but intense revolution and war of independence. The revolution has been smashed (by an Austrian-Russian alliance), and 13 leaders of the Hungarian army, many of whom were from other nationalities, have been executed. These are the facts.
From that day, October 6th of 1849, it is said that a true Hungarian will never clink his beer - out of spite to the Austrian nobility, who - according to legend - celebrated the executions with beer, including clinking their mugs together. Strangely, the oath bound all Hungarians for 150 years only. But what is the truth behind all this?

The celebration

Although drinking beer was not a strange thing for anyone at the time, experts on the time find it highly unlikely that beer would have been involved, if any celebration actually happened. Not only sounds drinking an exclusive champagne more possible, but the only illustrated source depicts the victorious generals with champagne glasses, toasting the two-headed eagle (traditional heraldic animal of Habsburg Austria). But if the deed was not done in this way, how come beer is the scapegoat?

Passive resistance

A more plausible source of the story is the passive resistance (prepare for CrashCourse 2.0). Ferenc Deak, commonly known as the Wise Man of the Homeland, declared a passive resistance on the forming Habsburg rule between 1849-1867. Deak, as the main opinion leader of the time, called the Hungarian nobility into a not-participating state, in which they tried to sabotage the solidifying of the Habsburg rule by refusing to fully pay their taxes, to execute the central governments orders or to help local functionaries fulfill their respective missions. The passive resistance earned itself a romantic charm during the time, and have been completed by items not given by Deak - like denouncing the drinking of beer (and the clinking of mugs). Although the latter (and particularly its 150-year-long realization) seems highly unlikely, a similar approach during the end of the socialist era bloomed, explaining how the legend of not clinking beer mugs could resurface again in the late 1900s.

Wrath of the Winemakers

The most plausible origin of the legend boils down to the thing any human activity can be reduced to: money. Although Hungary always had great soil for both wine- and beermaking, in the 1890s a great epidemic of Peronosporales mould had not only attacked Hungarian vineyard, but damaged them so savagely, that winemaking was reduced to one-fourth of its previous production. After a few years struggle and the restoration of the vineyards producing capacities, winemakers tried to regain their previous slice of the alcoholic beverages market, at that time already dominated by beer. Thus, presumptions point towards the time’s vineyards in spreading the oath as a reoccurring revenge against the Habsburg rule - pushing down beer consumption, and promoting wine as the No.1 Hungarian drink.

However the legend was born, it has been with us for more than a hundred years now. Of course, a few of us still believes this to be a part of national pride, and a few of us just clinks their mugs without consideration. Whatever might be right or wrong, though, Hungarians still produce exciting and particularly tasty beers, and whether you clink your mugs or not, our advice is to try out as many as you can.