The United Nations Education Scientific Cultural Organization recently recognized one of Vietnam's oldest festivals as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The Giong Festival was among 45 items (in 29 countries) to receive the honorific at a ceremony held at the agency's headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, on November 16.
The Giong Festival is held annually in Phu Dong Village, Gia Lam District (a suburb of Hanoi) on the 9th day of the 4th month of the lunar calendar.
Local residents gather to hold a series of processions, rituals and performances in celebration of Thanh Giong (Saint Giong) who defeated Yin invaders in the 3rd century. Thanh Giong is one of the four immortal heroes in the Vietnamese pantheon.
Legend has it that Giong, a three-year-old boy from Phu Dong, transformed into a giant and helped rid the country of foreign invaders before riding an iron horse to heaven.
The festival represents Hanoi's third heritage to be recognized by UNESCO after the Temple of Literature and Thang Long Royal Citadel.
The festival ranks among Vietnam's four World Intangible Cultural Heritages, which include nha nhac cung dinh Hue (royal court music from Hue), gong culture from the Central Highlands, and quan ho Bac Ninh (Bac Ninh love duet singing). So far, there are 212 items on the list of UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
This year, 147 nominations from 32 countries were submitted for consideration by the global body.
The 46 acknowledged as heritages included six for traditional handicrafts, 12 for cultural festivals, six for folk knowledge, 20 heritages of artistic performances, and three for folk cuisine.
According to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Vietnam will prepare records for don ca tai tu (a traditional folk music from the south and folk literature) to become a World Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2012.