Legend of Saint Giong

There are many stories and legends that have been passed down over the generations in Vietnam. You are likely to hear a few of them if you mix with locals during your Vietnam tour package and ask any polite questions about why some traditions are followed. The Vietnamese are fairly superstitious and these stories are important to them. Some dictate behaviour even today.

saint giong festival

One such story relates to a couple living in a small village in the countryside. Even though they had been married for many years, they had no children and the wife had never fallen pregnant. One day, when she went to the fields to work, she saw a huge footprint in the ground. I was enormous and she put her foot in the footprint to see how many times her own foot would fit into it.

The following day, she discovered that she was pregnant. However, the baby did not arrive in 9 months but after twelve months she had a baby boy. He grew up strong but neither spoke, laughed or cried. He neither responded to his parents or the other children in the village.

When the boy was just 3 years old, the country was invaded and all the villages were destroyed. The King sought help from the people to form an army and the boy spoke for the first time, telling his mother that he wanted to join the army. His mother called the King’s messenger to the house after she recovered from the surprise of hearing him speak. The young boy told the messenger to tell the King that if he gave him an iron horse, stick and armour, he would drive the An invaders away.

The messenger returned to the King and gave him the message. The things were prepared but in the meanwhile he ate a great deal and outgrew his clothes. Neighbours brought him more food and new clothes; he looked like a 20- year-old.  The messenger returned with the things the boy requested and he rode away to battle. He attacked and used his iron stick until it broke while his horse breathed fire on the enemy. He pulled up a bamboo tree to continue the fight.

The enemy retreated to its homeland while the boy and his horse went to the top of a mountain known as Soc. He bowed to his parents and all the villagers before riding his horse up to heaven and was never seen again. Bamboo now has yellow stripes to represent the fire that the horse blew and ponds are regarded as the marks of the horse’s hooves. The village where the boy was born is called Saint Guong.

The legend led to an annual festival in the village just outside Hanoi. You are certain to want to see Hanoi during your Vietnam holiday. It is primarily a festival for locals but tourists may find their way there. At the festival the legend is re-enacted. The legend’s message is about self-sacrifice and children learn the Legend of Saint Guong at school.