Hung Kings' Festival and Legend of Chung Cake

                                     Hung Kings' Festival

and Legend of Chung Cake

The Hung Kings' Temple Festival (also known as Death Anniversary of the Hung Kings) is a Vietnamese festival held annually from the 8th to the 11th days of the third lunar month in honour (1) of the Hùng Vương or Hung Kings. The main festival day - which is a public holiday in Vietnam since 2007 - is on the 10th day.

The purpose of this ceremony is to remember and pay tribute to (2) the contribution of the Hung Kings who are the traditional founders (3) of the nation and became its first emperors (4)

There were so many stories about Hung Kings, one of them is the origin of the “Chung” cake and “Day” cake.

Legend has it that in Hong Bang dynasty (5), 6th Hung Emperor held a contest for his 21 sons in order to find the one who worthfully inherited(6) his position. In the contest, each prince brought a delicacy representing the sincerity(7) for the ancestors on the occasion of the Lunar New Year (Tết), whoever could introduce the most delicious dish for the altar(8) would become the next ruler of the country. Almost all princes attended the competition with luxury and unusual dishes except for Lang Lieu- the18th son who was also the poorest and loneliest as he lost his mother at a young age. Thanks to the help of a fairy in his dream, Lieu came up with the recipes for baking two types of cake called “Chung cake” (Bánh chưng) and “Day cake” (Bánh dày).

“Day cake” was made from the sticky rice which symbolized the Earth and the Sky while “Chung cake” - in the square form of earth, in the ancient(9) conception - was cooked by green bean paste and belly pork. Lieu then used Dong leaves (one type of bamboo leaves, popular only in the Southern Asia and can be substituted by banana leaves) to wrap up these cakes. Deeply impressed by such simple but meaningful cakes, Hung Emperor decided that Lieu was the winner and passed his position to Lieu.


The legend aims to remind the next generations of the ancient tradition as well as the primary of Chung cake. Besides, it emphasizes the important role of rice and nature in water rice culture of Vietnam.

Honour/honor (n): a quality that combines respect, being proud, and honesty


         (2)   Pay tribute to: to give public recognition to someone or something

         (3)   Founder (n): someone who establishes an organization

         (4)   Emperor (n): a sovereign ruler of an empire

         (5)   Dynasty: a series of rulers or leaders who are all from the same family, or a period when a country is ruled by them

         (6)   Inherit (v): receive (money, property, or a title) as an heir at the death of the previous holder

         (7)   Sincerity (n): the quality of being open and truthful

         (8)   Altar (n): a raised area in a house of worship where people can honor ancestors

         (9)   Ancient (adj): Belonging to the very distant past and no longer in existence

                                                Department of Consultancy and International Cooperation
                                                                         BIDV Training School