The village lies in the Eastern borderline area of Nagykun-Szolnok county between two territorial units on the Great Hungarian Plane, the Hortobágy and the Middle-Tisza, different from each other in many ways. Its peripheral position is also indicated by the fact that the nearest small towns (Tiszafüred and Karcag) are both to be found in a distance of about 25–30 kilometres, and the capital city of the county (Szolnok), and the capital city of the neighbouring county (Debrecen) are also about 75–80 kilometres away. There is no railway line coming in contact with it. Nagyiván is a settlement, which is connected with the transportation system of the country only at one end by way of a bus service, which goes to Tiszafüred.
The settlement on the verge of the Hortobágy, and its surroundings are one of the driest territories in our country, the annual precipitation is about 520 mm, and the average temperature is around 10şC. The field, which is not too large in acreage if compared with the rest of the Plane, can be divided into two distinct areas. This duality is also visible morphologically: the loess covered ranges of sand-hills around Tiszaörs join the surface of the Hortobágy scribbled by the bends of the Tisza with a clearly drawn bench.
The tumuluses scattered along the borders of the village give evidence of human activity in order to re-shape nature. The highest of these hills mostly supported by a range of hillocks or former natural levees, is called Bürök-halom, which is the highest point of the Hortobágy region. Part of the field around the village is a protected area today: as part of the Hortobágy Nature Park, it is a natural habitat for rare flora and fauna.
It gives a good indication of the potential of agricultural production that next to the low proportion, 28 percent of arable land, the area of the pasture is most significant (almost 44 percent) from the whole surrounding land area. This is a typical value indicating the utilisation of land around the Hortobágy, which shows the significant areas taken by reed-beds, and unused areas (marshland, protected area).
Archaeological data show that the vicinity of the village was inhabited as early as in the middle Neolithic age, although no planned archaeological excavation has taken place yet. Especially, the Western border of the village is rich in archaeological finds. Several settlements suitable for long-term human habitation had been formed in the area of the village before the settlement of Hungarians.
The name of a human given to the settlement makes the assumption probable that the village could be inhabited in the age of Arpad, probably from the turn of the XII and XIII centuries. Its name was mentioned in charters only after the Mongolian invasion, and its prefix Nagy appeared as early as in the 1480-ies.
The settlement, which belonged to Szabolcs county for centuries, became a puszta by the beginning of the 1400-ies, and got under the administration of Heves county only after the new settlements. The persons owning the village changed several times in the XV century. For a short time, the Hunyadies, one of whom was a great Hungarian king, were the masters of it, but at the end of the century, the chapter of Eger became the owner of half of Nagyiván. After the Rout at Mohács, the chapter of Eger started to be the sole owner of the whole area, and the chapter’s presence remained dominating until the middle of the XX century.
When the Turks took the castle of Szolnok in 1552, the inhabitants of Nagyiván soon found themselves under Turkish authority, and had to pay tax to two masters for long decades. In 1596, the Turkish and Mongolian troops marching against the castle of Eger, ravaged the village: from which time, the settlement became an uninhabited puszta for more than a hundred years. After the wars of liberation, and after the Rákóczi freedom fight in 1712, and later in 1721, the chapter of Eger tried to re-populate the devastated area, with no success.
The year of 1754 marked a turn in the history of Nagyiván, when the efforts made by the landowner yielded success at last. At that time, the chapter of Eger gave settlement permissions and allowances to 14 serf families (nine from Boconád, three from Heves, one from Csász-puszta and one from Dormánd). In 1786, thirty years after the planned settlement, there were already 1143 people living in the village. Most of them were serfs with plots of land, or cotters with or without houses, but some families belonging to the nobility were also known. In 1828, there were 264 houses in Nagyiván, and the number of the population grew further to 1849 persons. With the exception of two Israelites, the whole population was of Roman Catholic religion. It was characteristic of the handicraft industry, that at that time there were representatives of several trades in the village (blacksmith, boot-maker, furrier, miller, weaver), and some guilds were formed. In 1851, the number of the population in Nagyiván was 1990.
Any further development of the village was hindered by poor soil conditions, large distances from fairs, and unfavourable transport connections, and thus, in the second half of the 1800-ies, signs of stagnation could be seen.
In 1930, the number of people living in Nagyiván was 2359, which was the highest number of people that ever lived in this village on the border of the Hortobágy. So, the settlement reached its peak in terms of population between the two world wars. After 1945, 1626 “hold” of land was distributed among 360 candidates, but after the re-partition of land, co-operatives came into being here as well. The disruption of the traditional socio-economic structure could be seen by the fact that the number of population stagnated since the 1950-ies, which was then followed by a major outflux of the population from the village. The number of people living in the village was 2353 in 1949, but the population of 2341 in 1960, dropped by 1980 to 1455. In the 1970-ies, the joint centre of the Council and the Co-operative management moved to Tiszaörs, the next village.
In Nagyiván, two monument type buildings, an edifice which would deserve to be a monument building, and several relics of architecture and cultural history add to give a special image to the settlement. The Roman Catholic church was built in 1789, and the Roman Catholic presbytery in 1792 from stone. There are several old peasant’s houses in the village with the typical structure of the late XIX century. Of all the different ornaments on the outside of the houses, the wrought-iron crests should be mentioned, which show the owner’s religion.
The population of the village settled on the domain of the chapter from Eger, was different from the people living in surrounding settlements in many regards. The reason for this was, that the inhabitants of Nagyiván were recruited from several settlements in the North of Hungary. Due to the blended population, they could only preserve very little from their original cultures. Nevertheless, they were aware of the most visible differences even in the 1970-ies, attributable to their origin, and enclosed nature of living. Here, bees have a different name, there is a different traditional meal at Christmas, and traditions in general are very unique.
From its mythical figures, the “szecskó”, identified as a witch, became known to researchers only during the last thirty years. This is a Palots heritage. Northern traditions are preserved in the habit to water the horses from red apples at Christmas, and also in the worship of Virgin Mary statues, and dressed-up statues of the Virgin Mary in the home. The porticos frequent in architecture distinguish the village from the architecture of the surrounding settlements.
There are hardly any traces of their settlement history left in the memory of the people, and still, they know that famous shepherd dynasties lived in their village, and that their dialect and culture have features that make them distinct from the surrounding Presbyterian settlements.