New Year Reception for the Diplomatic Corps

Esteemed Ladies and Gentlemen,

It has long been a tradition in many Hungarian settlements in and around the Carpathian-basin that on New Year’s Day groups of young men would go around from house to house.
They walked around clanging bells and beating drums, wishing the families plentiful crops, good health and peace.

Although this tradition of New Year’s wishes has only been preserved in a few places in this old form, we have preserved the habit of wishing each other a Happy New Year. Friends and adversaries shaking hands, people wishing each other a year of plenty, success, joy, health and peace. Doors opened wide, good wishes coming from the heart. A happy crowd, forgiveness and new hopes. Wherever you go worldwide, this is the type of disposition that best fits New Year’s eve and the first day of the year.

Despite this, 2017 did not arrive in global news with a message of peace but with devastating images of terror. Shortly after midnight – while everybody was celebrating – nationals of 14 countries were killed in a bloody attack in Istanbul.

Fearmongers perpetrating such acts really do not hold anything sacred. Be it a Christmas market, a year-end community gathering, a concert, a cafe, a church or a national day celebration. Senseless terror wants it all, wants to take everything dear to us.

Thinking of the dark first hours of the year, we have every right to ask the question: will 2017 also be the year of closed doors and fear? Will we be able to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the feeling of constant threat? Will we be able to come closer to the peace that we wished for during the first minutes of the new year?

In 1968 Blessed Pope Paul VI declared New Year’s Day the World Day of Peace. Pope Paul VI cautioned against naivety. He said peace was not based on a balance of power. Because if peace is enforced by constantly opposing forces, then the spark of violence may engulf the world in fire any moment. At the same time he also cautioned about the responsibility of each individual: “Peace is built day-to-day with constant work”


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