European balls have their history and traditions. The first balls were held in the royal courts; the Viennese Hofburg royal palace was the home for many balls, as was Versailles. As the bourgeoisie strengthened in society these balls were shifted to the major cities. The most ornate and spacious buildings, in which these events were held, were the opera houses. The first ball in Hungary was held in 1886 two years after the opera house was built.
There are many differences between today’s Ball and those of the last century. The guests arrive in taxis and luxurious cars instead of horse-drawn elegant carriages. The ballroom is lit up with electricity instead of candlelight, and the guests dance to the traditional waltz, polka and gypsy music as well as to modern music.
However the traditions never change. Debutantes are presented to the guest of honour. They gracefully dance the opening waltz. Dinner is served at ten o’clock. The atmosphere is very festive, dress is formal and dancing continues until the wee hours of the morning. Over the years, the Hungarian St. Stephen’s Ball has attained prominent status. This event has been enhanced by the presence of our many non-hungarian friends, political figures, highly respected businessmen and multinational business leaders.
The festive and elegant atmosphere of the evening has given the Ball its reputation as one of Montreal’s premier social events.