Traditional Hungarian folk dress is imbued with great meaning. The elaborate symbolism on clothing may express local, regional, social, religious, and ethnic identity. Community traditions of clothing are based on age, social group, and even family status. In the past, a woman's folk costume changed when she got married, after her first child was born, and after the birth of her first grandchild. The traditional dowry of a Hungarian bride consisted of hundreds of items.
The bright hues of the folk costumes worn by Festival participants emerged in the mid-nineteenth century, when colorful dyes and fabrics became more widely affordable. Traditional folk costume in Hungary started to be abandoned in the 1950s as a result of industrialization and socialist collectivization. But in certain regions, especially in Transylvania (Romania), people have preserved their traditions and today serve as models for the revitalization of traditional dress as a means for expressing Hungarian heritage.