Last Monday was the Death anniversary of Hung Kings. It’s a Vietnamese traditional festival to worship Hùng Vương (English: Hùng Kings) and also a public holiday celebrated on the tenth day of the third lunar month.
Vietnamese people have acknowledged a common ancestor: Lạc Long Quân, Âu Cơ and Hùng Vương. Legend tells of the dragon lord, Lạc Long Quân and the mountain fairy, Âu Cơ who had 100 sons. As the parents belonged to different realms, they parted ways, each taking 50 of the 100 sons to their respective homes. The eldest son went to live by the coast, in the domain of dragons. The eldest came to power in 2897 BC and became known as Hùng Vương, ruling an area covering what is now North Vietnam and part of southern China. Hùng Vương founded the Hồng Bàng dynasty, whose members ruled Vietnam until 258BC.
This festival is representation of coordinating between two concepts: country and nation.
The term for “country” in the Vietnamese language is đất nước. Đất means “ground” or “soil” and nước means “water.” Đất and nước is the pair of two factors in the nature of yang and yin. According to the tale of “Con Rồng cháu Tiên”, đất (or mountainous area) is the homeland of Âu Cơ and nước is the fatherland of Lạc Long Quân. That means country, to Vietnamese people, is the unity of two contradictions for further development: delta people and mountain people, majority ethnic group and minority ethnic groups, etc. Practically, 15 Vietnamese ancient tribals associated with one another to form the first Vietnam’s state: Văn Lang. It is just unity for damming up against the annual flood of the Red River but not war or conquer of more strong tribal forming Vietnam country in pre-history.
Nation means not only a community that lives together in the same country but also people who have a blood relationship. Although there are 54 officially recognized ethnic groups in Vietnam, speaking languages in five language families, according to the tale of “Con Rồng cháu Tiên“, all people of 54 ethnic groups are in the same descent. Hồ Chí Minh said that Vietnamese people are đồng bào (đồng: the same/common, bào: egg): people all were born from the Mother Âu Cơ’s magical egg.
That solidarity of people with various ethnic, fatherland, authority, opinion forms Vietnam as a united nation-country. Country means nation and nation means country. Vietnamese people have acknowledged a common ancestor: Lạc Long Quân, Âu Cơ and Hùng Vương; they are not the ancestors of a line of descent but are the ancestors of a nation, a country. Their death anniversary, called “Giỗ Tổ Hùng Vương”, is held on the 10th day of the third lunar month in Hùng temple in Phú Thọ province.
And this tale is all for the day.
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