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Aerial view of Újkígyós

Coat of arms

Újkígyós is located in Hungary
Location in Hungary

Újkígyós is located in Békés County
Location in Békés County
Coordinates: 46°35′00″N 21°02′00″E / 46.5833333, 21.0333333
Country  Hungary
Region Southern Great Plain Region
County Békés departemento blazono.jpg Békés County
Subregion Békéscsaba
 • Mayor Zoltán Szebellédi (FIDESZ-KDNP-Gazdakör Újk)
 • Total 54.92 km2 (21.20 sq mi)
Population (1 Jan. 2010)
 • Total 5,376
 • Density 97.89/km2 (253.5/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 5661
Area code 68
KSH Code 02352

Újkígyós is a large town in Békés County, in the Southern Great Plain Region of south-east Hungary.

Geography[edit | edit source]

It covers an area of 54.92 km² and has a population of 5376 people (2010).

Although the “prefix” “új”, meaning “new”, would suggest that the town is of recent creation, it probably dates as far back in history as the neighboring Szabadkigyos "Free Kigyos"--see the date on the town's Coat of Arms at right. It did, however, expand greatly during the post-World War II era while the Hungarian Communist Party was consolidating its power, as part of its "transformation socialiste de la agriculture” 1 that the new government had begun to impose on the rural population. At the time, farming families from the surrounding countryside, most of whom had once worked as tenants of the recently departed local gentry, were obligated to physically relocate into a central district, and then work the land as part of the collective.

(As recently as the late 1960s, many of the former dwellings of the residents, converted into barns and storehouses, were still in use by the collective).

The gradual relaxation of government controls that followed the Soviet Russian invasion—and repression—of 1956 (2), and the slow economic recovery of the 1960s, brought marked improvement to the lives of the townspeople. Indoor plumbing was installed, even if the early deficiencies were such that many in the town referred to it contemptuously as “sozialisch Arbeit”. Masses, including wedding masses, were celebrated under official government auspices in the local Roman Catholic church.

During the summer of 1968, at the time of the annual national Táncfesztivál, Újkígyós—along with the rest of the country—was able, for the first time, to welcome the return visits of many of the 200,000 expatriates who had left the country after the aborted revolt of 1956. (3) This novelty coincided with the apogee of Alexander Dubček’s reform efforts in neighboring Czechoslovakia, the radicalism of which invited the return of the Russian military before the summer’s end (the evening of 18/19 August 1968). (4)

The town seems to differ little in size or aspect today, 40 years later. In fact, an aerial or satellite view of the region shows little difference from photographs of rural Hungary that were published in 19625 for the purpose of showcasing the success of the government’s collectivization programs. Modern amenities abound, of course—by comparison, there was only one car in Ujkidyos in 1968—but the town has grown little, since many of the young leave to seek their fortunes in the larger cities of the region—Szeged, principally—and, of course, the capital, Budapest.

More research is needed into the privatization of collective farms since the Communist Party gave up its monopoly of power in 19896, in order to shed light on the path taken by the people of Uíkígyós—specifically, to what extent the collective has continued to function as a cooperative enterprise, and how much of the surrounding farmland has been deeded to private individuals, or even restored to some of its previous owners. One source states unequivocally that "in the 1990s, the shops of the bankrupt co-operative became privatised, and the co-operative itself was split into several smaller business units. Several families are farming now as private farmers on its land given to them after a compensation movement."7

For all the changes that Uíkígyós has enjoyed since the installation of Democratic government, the accompanying photograph of the young girl on horseback, taken in the summer of 1968, could be reproduced in the outskirts of town today (2010), the tradition of “horsemanship” dating back to the early days of the Magyar migration into the Carpathian basin, and not likely to vanish any time soon.

References[edit | edit source]

1. La Hongrie par l’image, Mihályfi Ernő (rédaction et préface), Imprimerie Kossuth, Budapest, 1962 (p. 147) 2. Western Civilization: A Social and Cultural History, King, Margaret L., Prentice Hall, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ, USA, 2001, p. 626 3. Ibid., p. 627 4. Ibid., p. 627 5. La Hongrie par l’image, Mihályfi Ernő (rédaction et préface), Imprimerie Kosssuth, Budapest. 1962 (pp. 118–119) 6. Western Civilization: A Social and Cultural History, King, Margaret L., Prentice Hall, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ, USA, 2001, p. 627 7., 1/28/2010

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