St Petersburg University has been the only Russian venue to mark the Vietnam Ancestral Global Day in commemoration of the Hùng Kings, the legendary founders of the Vietnamese nation.

This year, the Hùng Kings’ Festival has been celebrated in St Petersburg for the third time. The climax of the celebration was a teleconference with live broadcasting from: Vietnam; Russia; Laos; Canada; the USA; Austria; and South Korea. The celebratory events hosted at St Petersburg University have brought together representatives of: the Vietnamese diaspora and the society of Vietnamese women in St Petersburg; St Petersburg branches of the Communist Party of Vietnam and the Hồ Chí Minh Communist Youth Union; Vietnamese media; Russian orientalist scholars; and students majoring in Vietnamese studies.

The Hùng Kings were the legendary founders of the nation and kings of the first Vietnamese state — Văn Lang (29th — 3rd centuries BC). For every Vietnamese, the Hùng Kings are a symbol of the nation’s spiritual and moral ethos, representing its unity.

‘The celebration has a special significance in terms of transmitting the historical memory of our people to younger generations and acquainting our Russian friends with the history and customs of our country,’ emphasised Mr Lê Văn Tuấn, First Secretary of the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in the Russian Federation. He explained that St Petersburg had been selected as the venue for the celebration for good reason. Petrograd was the first city of the Soviet Union that Hồ Chí Minh, a prominent Vietnamese political figure of the 20th century, visited a century ago, in search for a way to liberate his homeland from colonialist oppression.

The Hùng Kings Festival unites all Vietnamese, regardless of their residence, political views and occupation,’ said Professor Vladimir Kolotov, Head of the Department of History of the Far East Countries at St Petersburg University. ‘A Communist will stand next to a Republican, and a person living in Hanoi will say the same words as a Vietnamese expatriate residing in Europe’.

Worshipping Hùng Kings has become part of the culture, moral code and traditional values of the Vietnamese people, an expression of appreciation by descendants for the merits of ancestors in nation-building.

Professor Kolotov reminded the audience of a quote by Hồ Chí Minh: ‘The Hùng Kings founded this nation. We must defend it together.’ He underlined that the Vietnamese diaspora in St Petersburg is a close-knit and patriotic community, which is evidenced by its activities aiming to strengthen the relations between our countries.

‘When applying for studies in Russia, Vietnamese students often opt for St Petersburg University,’ stated Vladimir Kolotov. ‘The largest number of Vietnamese students and cadets study in St Petersburg — in both civilian and military universities. Here, they receive quality education, and then they return to their homeland to contribute to its development and modernisation by protecting the country and working for its benefit.’

This year, the programme of the Vietnam Ancestral Global Day consisted of three parts. The commemoration event started with traditional Hùng Kings worshipping rituals — expressions of respect and gratitude to the ancestors. The second part was cultural festival themed ‘Return to Vietnam’. In addition to showcasing cultural performances by Vietnamese students from different universities in St Petersburg, it featured lectures on the history of Vietnam and Vietnamese traditions, thus, ‘returning’ the Vietnamese among those in attendance to their historical homeland. The third part of the Vietnam Ancestral Global Day 2023 was an international symposium ‘Honouring national values and national virtues’.