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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Vietnam Season 1 Lesson 22 - Giong Festival
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Vietnam series at VietnamesePod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Vietnamese holidays and observances. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 22 - Giong Festival.
The Giong Festival, or hội Gióng, is a traditional festival held in many places throughout Hanoi each year to commemorate and praise the victories of the legendary Thánh Gióng, one of four immortal heroes according to Vietnamese folk tales.
In this lesson, we will learn about the Giong Festival and the legend of Thánh Gióng.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?
When and why was the Giong Festival in Phù Đổng and Sóc Temples inscribed as an intangible cultural heritage and representative of humankind?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
According to ancient legend, there was once a baby boy born to a farming family in the village of Phu Dong who was named Giong. Though he seemed like a regular child at first, at the age of three Giong still could not walk or talk. At this point in time, the King of the land was battling enemy invaders, and was looking for a talented warrior to fight them off. News of this search reached Giong’s family, and upon hearing the King’s request, Giong all of a sudden spoke like an adult, asking his mother to invite the messenger to come. He then raised his arms high and fully developed instantaneously, transforming from a defenseless three-year-old into a strong, capable man! Armed with a sword, or gươm and iron horse, or ngựa sắt, Giong volunteered to fight for the king, and defeated the enemy.
On the fifth day of the lunar calendar each year, a ceremony is held to bathe the statue of Giong, referred to as Moc Duc Festival or lễ Mộc Dục. The real ceremony begins on the following day, when village locals surround Soc Temple to make their offerings to Thanh Giong, praying for him to bless them with a prosperous and happy life.
At this ceremony, people often offer bamboo flowers, or hoa tre, in reverence of Giong.
It is common for people to choose bamboo sticks that are roughly fifty centimeters long and are one centimeter in diameter for making the bamboo flowers. The flowers are then plucked off and the bamboo ends dyed, turning these sticks into a representation of Thanh Giong’s horse whip.
There are two exciting activities held during the Giong Festival. The first is referred to as "robbing the bamboo flower", an activity in which people run around and try to steal bamboo flowers, because it is believed that luck, or may mắn, will come to the people with the most bamboo flowers. The second is a mock ceremony in which people symbolically cut off the heads of the generals Giong defeated, which is carried out for the purpose of passing on the historical legend of Giong.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question!
When and why was the Giong Festival in the Phu Dong and Soc Temples inscribed as an intangible cultural heritage and representative of humankind?
In November 2010, UNESCO recognized this festival as such because even to this day, the festival has maintained its integrity through Vietnam’s changing history without fading or being influenced by external factors.
So listeners, how was this lesson? Did you learn something interesting?
Does your country have any ancient legends similar to the legend of Giong?
Please leave a comment telling us at VietnamesePod101.com, and we’ll see you next time!