Monday, April 14, 2008

Happy Hùng Vương Day!

Today is Hùng Vương Day. Hùng Vương is celebrated on the tenth day of the third lunar month. Who is Hùng Vương you wonder? Well, let me give you a little lesson in Vietnamese history, or rather mythology, or rather a little of both. (I had to do some research for this. Luckily I had procured a little booklet in Hue: Vietnam Legends and Folk Tales.)

According to Wikipedia (I wikipedia everything. And yes, it’s a verb, as in to wikipedia!), “Hùng Vương was the first emperor of Van Lang or Lac Viêt (as Vietnam was known at the time). Legend tells of the dragon lord, Lac Long Quân and the mountain fairy, (sometimes a Chinese immortal) Âu Cơ who had 100 children. As the parents belonged to different realms, they parted ways, each taking 50 of the 100 sons to their respective homes. Hùng Vương the eldest went to live by the coast, the domain of dragons. According to legend, he came to power in 2880 BC, ruling an area covering what is now Vietnam and part of China. He founded the Hong Bang Dynasty , which ruled Vietnam until 258 BC. His dynasty existed in Vietnamese prehistory, but much of the lore from this time is now lost to the ages. His sons were always named after him and many stories include either him or another of his offsprings.”

The more myth like version has Âu Cơ lay a sac of one hundred eggs since Lac Long Quân is a dragon lord. From these eggs hatched one hundred human beings. While the children grow up, Lac Long Quân realizes he misses his underwater life. He decides to take half of the children with him to his underwater palace while the other half will stay with Âu Cơ on land. Although half lived on land and the other in water, if either group encountered misfortune, then the other group had to help each other. Âu Cơ and her fifty children became known as Hùng Vương. Because of that, Vietnamese people refer to themselves as the dragon and fairy’s grandchildren.

Last year, the Vietnamese government made Hùng Vương a public holiday, as an occasion for the Vietnamese to express their gratitude to the Hùng Kings and to bolster Vietnamese cultural identity. This makes the total number of public holidays in Vietnam 9.

1 comment:

Gastronomer said...

In America, we celebrate a different kind of king -

Martin Luther King, Jr.! Woot!