PO Box 74527
Kitsilano PO
Vancouver, BC
V6K 4P4 
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Editor-in-Chief,
Designer:

Peter Czink

Editor,
Webmaster:

Lorraine Weideman


 

 


Peter Czink Receives the Queen Elizabeth II
Diamond Jubilee Medal

 

     A new commemorative medal was created to mark the 2012 celebrations of the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the Throne as Queen of Canada, and is awarded to Canadians who have made a significant contribution to a particular province, territory, region or community within Canada, or an achievement abroad that brings credit to Canada.
     Peter Czink is considered one of the hardest working volunteers in the Hungarian-Canadian community, serving both the old and new generations alike. He devotes all of his spare time and considerable expertise, not only working for the Hungarian culture and community, but also raising international awareness of the history and traditions of the people of Hungary and of Hungarian immigrants.
     He is the founder and editor of the New Hungarian Voice, Canada's only English language Hungarian cultural publication, as well as the Magyar Front the English language Hungarian military history journal with subscribers worldwide. A passionate and outspoken Canadian, Peter uses his experience with his own ethnic community to help others embrace and promote our diversity, continuously illustrating how getting to know the traditions and customs of all peoples immeasurably enrich us all.
     His tireless work, which includes both popularly and academically acclaimed writing, publishing, research, and historical exhibitions, ensures that the Canadian offspring of Hungarian immigrants (and all English speaking peoples) have access to their culture in their own language. He also skilfully uses Hungary's thousand-year-old history to promote peace and tolerance, and raises awareness of the contributions of Jewish-Hungarian veterans to ensure the restoration of the rights and dignity of their families (in Canada and abroad) who suffered during the first half of the 20th Century.
     There is no end to Peter's plans for promoting his beloved culture and heritage and it's his highest hope to make sure that the Hungarian-Canadian experience will always have a place in the precious multicultural mosaic of Canada.

LW


 

 

My Exploration of Traditional Hungarian Woodcarving
by Lorraine Weideman

     I fell in love with Hungarian woodcarving while traveling through Hungary from 1995 to 1999.  Initially, I found two things that were particularly inspirational the first was in the city of Miskolc.  Hungarian veterans who fought along the Don River during the Second World War had recently erected a traditional Hungarian totem (or kopjafa as they are known in Hungarian) to commemorate their fallen comrades.  The mystical designs, carved into the heavy timber, were patiently explained to me with emotion-filled reminiscences and animated gestures.  Woodcarving is rather ubiquitous in that country, however, a later visit to a small village cemetery in Southeastern Hungary revealed similar decorative wooden grave markers that continued to intrigue and inspire me.
  In 1999, while planning the Vancouver Hungarian Millennium Festival, I met with local Hungarian master woodcarver Laszlo Jozsa. His passion and skill, coupled with his eagerness to teach his craft, encouraged me to expand my artistic repertoire to include woodcarving.  I began researching Hungarian carving and quickly found it difficult to access the needed information - especially in English.  I didn't give up, and with the help of some patient Hungarian friends, I managed to acquire a good deal of reference material.
     First, I learned basic chip-carving techniques, using a knife on basswood, and created a Hungarian decorative paddle.  Next, I was introduced to what is known as a parting tool - a gouge with a V-shaped blade.  I continued studying elements of Hungarian motifs, and chose yellow pine as my next canvas. In traditional Hungarian folk carving, symmetry is important - a well drawn design is also essential.  The specialized tools I became acquainted with included the Japanese dozuki saw (which cuts only on the backstroke), the flush saw, assorted chisels and gouges, ceramic sharpening stones, and the unusual shot-filled rubber mallet.


     After several weeks of working on my own, I joined Laszlo Jozsa at his studio.  There I started work on a five foot kopjafa.  The wood stock was a 5 inch square, by 5 foot long piece of ponderosa pine, slightly tapered towards the top.  We first discussed the basic elements of the traditional kopjafa: the sphere, the tulip, the plates (which act as dividers) and their variations.  I began by drawing these motifs on all four sides of the blank pine.  Traditionally, the bottom third of the piece is usually left plain, however, sometimes an inscription or other decorative designs are applied there.
     I found woodcarving to be quite mesmerizing.  Working in harmony with the wood grain, the aroma of freshly cut pine, the flying chips that blanket the ground were - new artistic experiences for me.  This medium brought me intimately closer to a rich and ancient tradition, and as an artist used to painting on canvas, it allowed me to express myself in new dimensions.



 

ON THE HUNGARIAN LANGUAGE
 

     NHV editor Peter Czink answers questions for Monika Csiszar's paper on the preservation of Hungarian culture, cultural artefacts and Hungarian language by first and second generation Canadians; looking to understand the personal meanings associated with the "imported" Hungarian Culture in Vancouver, its significance to individual Hungarians and the reasons various cultural aspects have been maintained (and why some aspects of Hungarian culture have been lost).

 


MC: If you can, please explain the importance of the preservation of the Hungarian language in context of preserving the Hungarian culture

PC: The Hungarian language is a very important part of the Hungarian culture. If we are to preserve Hungarian culture outside of the homeland, however, I believe that attempting to preserve the language is a loosing battle. By preserving the language I mean using it practically and on a high level. First of all, I encourage everyone to learn the language, and I endeavour to improve my Hungarian language skills constantly. But each consecutive generation will use it less, since among the descendants of any culture, the people who actively use the second language are in the minority.
     I believe that teaching our children that the only way for them to be Hungarian, or the only way to preserve the culture is by speaking the language, will only set them up for failure, and will be the cause of future self-esteem issues. Most descendants of immigrants I know are very self-conscious about their Hungarian language skills, and I think our community lack of young leaders can be directly attributed to that.
     To sum up my opinion, the preservation of the Hungarian language is of paramount importance to cultural preservation in Hungary. Here, outside of Hungary, I feel that it is something that should be encouraged and nurtured, but is certainly not essential.

MC: When you speak Hungarian how often and with whom do you speak?

PC: I speak, read and write Hungarian daily. I work with several people and organizations in Hungary, and do business there too.

MC: Can you foresee a thriving Hungarian culture within Vancouver if future generations of Hungarian diaspora continue to loose access to the Hungarian language?

PC: Of course! But I also think it quite possible for the community to disappear eventually. There will always be people who take more interest in learning languages, and there will always be families that particularly nurture this. The post-WWII and post-1956 immigrants created the myth that we are the last bastion of Hungarian-ness, and that it and the culture can easily wither away because of this. Immigrant parents saw how their children didn't speak the language perfectly, and viewed them as second-class Hungarians (I am often told that I am not a Hungarian). Many kids were taught through the Scouting movement to be ready to smash communism, and to dance for their parents social events, however, leadership and initiative was not really nurtured.
     The people of Hungary have moved on, and speaking English or German is common. For Hungary to really be understood, or included in a global consciousness, the Hungarian language alone is inadequate.

MC: Any other thoughts/statements regarding the use of or importance of the Hungarian language?

PC: I think that most of Hungary problems stem from the nation being misunderstood. I am a strong believer that people are kinder and more empathetic to things they are not ignorant about. Hungarians, while preserving their wonderful language, should reach out and share their cultural experience with other peoples.

MC: Do you need to speak Hungarian to be considered Hungarian? Do you need to be knowledgeable of the Hungarian culture/history to be considered Hungarian?

PC:
I think that if you feel yourself to be Hungarian, you are Hungarian.

ON CULTURAL OBJECTS IN THE HOME

MC: What type of Hungarian cultural objects are displayed in your home (plates on walls, maps of Hungary etc...)?

PC: We have many things displayed in our home that are Hungarian. Although my main interest is Hungarian military history, we love to display all sorts of Hungarian things throughout our home: photographs, documents, military memorabilia, Hungarian antiques, objects of folk and fine art, textiles, porcelain, etc. We also like to collect pre-1900 English language books on Hungary and 19th and 20th century Hungarian folk embroidery.

MC: Out of the objects you identified, what is the personal significance of these objects to you? (Do they have geographical or historical significance?)

PC: The military objects and information I have gathered have the most personal significance, since my main work in the Hungarian community is the preservation of Hungarian military history. The main aspect of that is to do so in a somewhat unprecedented way (since most people equate such study with extreme nationalism). My focus is to use the study of Hungarian military history for the education English speaking people and for the promotion of peace and tolerance. And yes, they all have very clear historical and geographical significance.

MC: What makes these objects specifically Hungarian or specifically important to Hungarian culture?

PC: I do my best to specifically search out objects that are missing from public collections in Hungary, and information and documentation that has been lost or forgotten. I donate artefacts to public collection in Hungary as often as I can, and work on research projects with academic institutions. As you know, a lot of historically significant material was lost after the Second World War, and much of it was spread around the world since then.

ON HUNGARIAN TRAVEL AND THE FEELING OF HOME

MC: How often do you travel to Hungary?

PC: I have been there three times as an adult, and once as a kid.

MC: Do you feel more at home there or here? Is it possible to feel at home in both places or perhaps never totally at home in either?

PC: I feel at home in both places I am often homesick for Hungary, and when I'm there I miss Vancouver.

MC: Would you ever consider moving to Hungary?

PC: I often think about that.

MC: To be and feel Hungarian, do you need to be in Hungary (or outside the Hungarian border in your Hungarian village) to be Hungarian? Is being or feeling Hungarian geographical? Biological? Cultural?

PC: I think I love Hungary because I have learned so much about the place. The more I know, the more I love it. For me, learning about something in depth creates the emotional feelings. If someone shares such a treasure with you, you feel privileged you become enriched. Anyone who embraces a cultural treasure has the power to enlighten others with it and to make them feel (in our case) a little Hungarian.

ON HUNGARIAN CUISINE


MC: Are typical Hungarian dishes cooked in your house? What are they? Where did you learn to cook them?

PC: I couldn't boil an egg if my life depended on it. Lorraine is always learning new Hungarian dishes, and when we invite Hungarians to dinner, they take seconds and thirds. Her talent in the kitchen has surpassed anything I got used to as a kid and I ate nothing but Hungarian food until I was a teenager. I love most Hungarian dishes except kocsonya, not so much.

MC: Why is it important to maintain Hungarian cuisine?

PC:
Because it's delicious! Things like csirke paprika almost bring tears to my eyes but so do some Persian, or Greek, and Italian dishes. I think that food is the great equalizer and if you feel a love for a particular people or culture, it tastes that much better.

MC: Are there ingredients, and if so what are they, that cannot be purchased here?


PC:
We are always on the look-out for Hungarian products. Vancouver has come a long way in the last couple of decades, and more and more international stuff is available here.

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF HUNGARIAN CULTURE FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS

MC: Are there aspects of Hungarian culture which you do not maintain?

PC: Hungarian culture has everything, and it is becoming more accessible for people who don't speak the language. Any interest can be satisfied literature, the arts, music, folk culture, and there a thousand years of history to look into. Hungary is a vibrant and contemporary country as well, and as we shed our parents attitude that their homeland was forever ruined by the communists, we can really get to know the Hungary of today, too.
     The only part of Hungarian culture that I do my best to rid myself of, are aspects of political and racial misconceptions I was exposed to in my childhood.

MC: Explain how you came to this country and how else you might work to maintain various aspects of Hungarian culture in your everyday life.

PC: I was born in Vancouver. To me, my cultural heritage is a great treasure, and when you possess a treasure, you can either hide it away or share it. To truly maintain one culture it must be out in the open it must be kept alive and shared not a musty urn full of ashes, but a constantly burning fire.
     People who are dedicated to cultural preservation are a tiny minority, and if nothing else, I hope that my work will inspire others to roll up their shirtsleeves and work a little for the Hungarian cause.