Memorable programs, memorable people

20 March 2019

Almond Tree on Havihegy

On the Mecsek slopes in Pécs, perched on the grey rocks of Havihegy stands a snow white chapel. Many years ago, diligent worshippers planted almond trees around the chapel. One of those trees is still alive – although its trunk is twisted and a thick branch broke off long ago, this spring it blossomed the same way as always, over the last 135 years.
The inhabitants of Pécs love, respect and nurture the tree: it is important to them not just because the almond tree forms part of their natural heritage but also because its very existence over hundreds of years carries an important message: if we respect nature’s laws and use its gifts sparingly, if we reap its fruit in a way that allows future generations to enjoy it as well, then we have adequately provided for the future. People of the olden days were well aware of this truth, which we seem to have forgotten. Thus it was a great experience for me to attend an unusual lesson at my former school, the Leőwey Klára High School, where János read a lecture within the thematic week dedicated to sustainability. I take special pride in the unique initiative of a group of environment-conscious students, who have launched the programme Vized (Your Water), directing attention to the importance of water in our lives. As part of the programme, two drinking fountains were inaugurated on the day of our visit, providing the entire school community with healthy, filtered and chilled water and the students were given reusable drinking bottles allowing them to avoid the use of single-use plastic bottles in school. It is to be applauded that young people in Pécs take an active interest in the issue of the environment and in those determining the future of our Planet. They represent the hope that the next generation will use the possibilities and resources given by the environment in a more conscious and clever manner. For the people of Pécs, the almond tree has represented eternal renewal since Janus Pannonius. When its pink almond blossoms unfold in the spring, new life begins. There is nothing more important. This is why the almond tree on Havihegy became the Tree of the European Year in 2019.