It is worth starting with the date itself: according to historical records, King Stephen died on 15 August 1038, the Feast of the Assumption. However, on the initiative of St. Ladislas, our first king was canonised only a few days later, on 20 August 1083. The traditional feast day therefore dates from the date of the event in the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Székesfehérvár.
In the Middle Ages, the feast became increasingly closely linked to the relic of The Holy Right, which was also placed in Fehérvár from the 15th century onwards. After a turbulent fate, it was not until the end of the 18th century that the hand relic returned home, accompanied by a huge celebration - paving the way for similar events in later eras. Meanwhile, over the centuries, a close association emerged with traditional folk festivals, notably those celebrating new bread and a successful harvest.
The celebration really became widespread in 1891, when it was declared an off-work holiday. The reverence for St Stephen received a new impetus between the two world wars, when on the 900th anniversary of his death, 20 August was made a national holiday. The custom of evening fireworks dates from this period.
After the Second World War, the celebration took on a new meaning, the date of the entry into force of the Stalinist constitution replaced the celebration of St Stephen. Our first king, the founder of the state and the procession of the Holy Right only regained their rightful place in the celebrations with the change of political system, the 2011 Constitution finally enshrined 20 August as a prominent holiday. The canonisation of Saint Stephen, Hungary's birthday, has been celebrated in recent years with an increasingly rich programme of events, commemorating the 1000-year history of our country - again, and for 939 years, on this day, 20 August.