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Being one of the public holidays of Vietnam, the Hung King festival celebrates the Hung Kings who make great contributions in building the country in its origins. The death anniversary of the Hung Kings has the purpose of educating the young generations of Vietnamese society about their traditional roots. On this special day, Vietnamese people, not only at home but also abroad, turn their hearts and souls towards Nghia Linh Mountain in Phu Tho Province—the sacred land where the Hung Kings established our country centuries ago.
‘Hung King’ or Hùng Vương is the modern title given for the ancient Vietnamese rulers of the Hồng Bàng period. The Hùng Vương would have been the head chieftain of Văn Lang or Âu Lac, a territory which composed of feudal communities of rice farmers.
The first Hùng king, Kinh Dương Vương, came to power in 2879 BC. He founded the Hồng Bàng Dynasty, whose members ruled Vietnam until 258 BC. The vestiges of this time now lost to history. The second dynasty of Hùng kings was founded by Lạc Long Quân, son of Kinh Dương Vương.
The descendants took the title of Hùng Vương after the first king, and are mentioned in many Vietnamese folktales. These stories tell of the heroics of eighteen different dynasties of Hùng Vươngs (one explains the introduction of the watermelon with the help of Hùng Vương X) but fail to account for the numerous unknown rulers of Vietnam during their two and a half millennia of sovereignty.
The festival is oriented around themes of filial piety, ancestor worship, and patriotism which are valued highly in Vietnamese culture. While this holiday is observed over the course of several days, the most important celebrations occur on the 10th day of the third lunar month. For many people, Hung Kings Commemoration Day is a joyous occasion that is centered on traditional Vietnamese culture and values.