The turn of April and May in Viet Nam is a time rich in celebrations and holidays related to the history of the country.
It starts with Hung Kings Festival on 29th of April, followed by the Day of Unification, which restored hope for a "better tomorrow" after a long war on 30th of April and finally May 1st, worldwide Labor Day.
As the Hung Kings' Day falls on Saturday, we have a coincidence of holidays falling on the weekend, so the days off have been moved to Tuesday and Wednesday. This resulted in a "long weekend" - 5 days off.
Road madness. The route from Saigon to Vung Tau was completely blocked - a 90 km journey, usually lasting 2 hours, extended to 9 hours...
On the occasion of Unification Day, a fireworks show is planned in Sai Gon. It's tomorrow.
And this is what it looked like a year ago:
This year, the Kings of Hùng festival is celebrated on the eve of Unification Day. This is a very important day, especially in the north of Viet Nam.
On this occasion, let me tell you a story about the rulers of Viet Nam.
Hùng Vương (雄王) or vua Hùng (𤤰雄) is the title given to ancient Vietnamese rulers during the Hồng Bàng dynasty.
The name Hung Vương is a combination of two Sino-Vietnamese words Hùng, meaning "brave", and Vuong, meaning "king". The name Hùng Vương could therefore be a title given to the current chief.
According to the supported narrative, Hùng Vương was most likely the chieftain of the Văn Lang kingdom, which at that time consisted of feudal rice-farming communities centered in the north of what is now Vietnam.
According to this narrative, the eighteen Hùng kings belonged to the Hồng Bàng dynasty (c. 2879-258 BC), which ruled the north in ancient times.
Their ancestors were the Lord of the Dragons Lạc and his consort Au Cơ Fairy. According to the legend, she produced a sack containing a hundred eggs, from which a hundred sons emerged. The Dragon Lord Lạc preferred to live in the sea, and the Fairy Âu Cơ preferred the mountains. The couple split amicably, leaving half of the sons to follow each parent.
The most illustrious of the sons became the first king of Hùng, who ruled the kingdom of Van Lang from his capital in modern Phu Tho province. Historically speaking, this moment is considered the beginning of the kingdom of all the descendants of the Dragon and Fairy Âu Cơ, who became the same Vietnamese people.
Over time, the cult of Hùng kings evolved. The descendants became the Spirits of the Mountains when they migrated south along with territorial expansion, or they transformed into the Spirits of the Whales when they settled near the sea.
Local communities donated land for the construction of temples and also as a source of income to cover the costs of worship of the Hùng kings.
Interestingly, as late as 1945, the Nguyên Court still delegated officials to oversee rituals at the temples of the Hùng kings in Phú Thọ Province.
Historians say that as a result of the mixing of the two currents, the mythographic construction of the state and the popular animistic cult in the villages, the Hùng kings came to be worshiped in temples throughout the Red River Delta and beyond as the ancestors of the Việt people.
The dissemination of the myth of the Hùng kings was also facilitated by the use of a specific form of transmission - the verses "lục bát" (six-eight). These were stories disseminated using the local language, in the form of colorful verse, allowing the story to be easily remembered and passed on.
The Festival of the Hung Kings (Vietnamese: Giỗ Tổ Hùng Vương or lễ hội đền Hùng), is a festival held annually from the 8th to the 11th day of the third lunar month. The main day of the festival - which has been a public holiday in Viet Nam since 2007 - falls on the 10th of the month. This year it is April 29th.
Every year, top government figures make a pilgrimage to the Temple of the Hùng Kings in Phu Tho Province to honor Quốc tộ (national founder).
In April 2016, a festival at the Temple of the Hùng Kings in Phu Tho attracted around seven million people.
In 2018, a project entitled World Ancestors Day of Vietnam was implemented, as part of which various cultural events were organized around the world on the occasion of the Hung Kings Remembrance Day. In that year, for the first time, World Ancestors Day of Viet Nam was celebrated simultaneously in many European countries according to a common format. Since 2015, one of the three main goals of the World Ancestors Day Project of Viet Nam is the preservation and dissemination of the rite of worship of the Hùng kings among Vietnamese living abroad.
In 2012, the worship of the Hùng kings in Phu Tho was recognized by UNESCO as the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, with the UNESCO website noting that this "tradition embodies spiritual solidarity and provides an opportunity to recognize the national roots and origins of Vietnamese culture and identity."
The King is dead; long live the King.