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What Hungarians celebrate on August 20



by Bence Balogh*

Every year on August 20, Hungary celebrates numerous occasions as this date has an important part in the country’s history.

On this day, the people of Hungary honour the state foundation of the country and the thousand-year continuity of the Hungarian State, commemorate the first king of Hungary, St. Stephen I., and celebrate the feast of new bread.

It is one of the oldest Hungarian holidays going back to 1092.

The Citadella on the top of Gellért Hill in Budapest, Hungary. Photo

The celebratory events on this day start with the flag-raising ceremony followed by the inauguration of military officers on Kossuth square in front of the Parliament in Budapest.

Throughout the day, one can attend multiple cultural events all over the country, such as the Festival of Folk Arts in the high castle of Buda, where numerous Hungarian artisans such as potters, wood carvers and lacemakers exhibit their traditional craftsmanship and preserve the heritage of our ancestors.

As part of the festival, the Street of Hungarian Flavors offers a great variety of traditional Hungarian foods to taste, as well as the ‘cake of the country,’ differing from year to year based on a competition among confectioners all over the country.

The fantasy name of this year’s cake is ‘grandma’s favourite.’

The filling of this delicious cake is made of white chocolate, pistachios, mascarpone mousse, hibiscus flowers and rose hips, and the pastry is made of almond and coconut flour.

The crown jewel of the celebration is the fireworks after sunset. The capital’s skies are filled with thousands of colourful blasts mingling with the cheering sounds of Hungarians, signalling their strength and independence in the heart of Europe. VNS

* A diplomat at the Hungarian embassy in Hà Nội.


Your Vietnam

California Fitness brings transformation challenge back to Việt Nam



Many Vietnamese people join the Guinness World Record-certified transformation challenge by California Fitness & Yoga. – Photo Courtesy California Fitness & Yoga

HCM CITY — California Fitness & Yoga’s Guinness World Record-certified transformation challenge is officially back in Việt  Nam.

Featuring a star-studded cast of ambassadors and a brand new theme, this year’s challenge is expected to be the biggest ever, featuring an array of incredible prizes to help further spread the message of fitness positivity.

California Transformation Challenge is California Fitness and Yoga’s exclusive weight loss programme that offers participants eight weeks of holistic health and fitness transformations from individual workouts and intense group workouts with personal coaching to nutrition consulting services from experts. 

Participants compete in the categories of fat loss or muscle gain to win attractive prizes including an iPhone 14, an ICONIC membership card for six months, a gold-plated trophy, and three months of free subscription to nutrition counseling and food delivery services.

According to a recent study conducted in Essex, UK, physical activity can play a crucial role in reducing health inequalities and the economic burden on health services. Specifically, the project integrated physical activity into the lives of individuals with disabilities or long-term health conditions and demonstrated an economic impact in terms of social value of almost US$60 for every dollar invested.

In Việt Nam, previous participants of California Fitness & Yoga’s body transformation challenge report similar experiences. They report a decreased need to visit hospitals or call upon medical services, as well as a higher level of energy and physical fitness, and are less prone to minor illnesses or health issues. There are even people reporting a significant improvement in management of prior and pre-existing injuries and an overall improvement in their health after participating in the programme. 

“Against this tough time economically, we have never been more dedicated to fulfilling our mission to improve the health and quality of life to all hundred-million people in Việt Nam,” said Dane Fort, chief executive officer of Cali’s parent company, FLG Vietnam. “The transformation challenge is our flagship program toward driving people toward better versions of themselves, and inspiring their families, friends and colleagues with their results to adopt healthier lifestyles themselves.”

In 2022, the fitness leaders efforts were certified by the Guinness World Record Organisation after presenting over 20,000 before-and-after shots showing transformations of people all around the nation. —  VNS


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Designer promotes Vietnamese tourism through áo dài collection



The sight of the city on the Sài Gòn River inspired the ‘Ngọc Viễn Đông’ (Pearl of the Far East) collection. — Photo courtesy of HCM City Áo Dài Festival

HCM CITY — One of the most eye-catching features of this year’s HCM City Áo Dài Festival which opened on the weekend was the collection of áo dài (traditional long dress) by designer Đỗ Trịnh Hoài Nam, who drew inspiration from the Sài Gòn River’s natural beauty.

The collection, which is titled Ngọc Viễn Đông (Pearl of the Far East), was created especially for the festival with the goal of promoting tourism along the Sài Gòn River to local and international audiences.

Apart from the imagery of the city on the Sài Gòn River, Nam added that the lotus flower inspired the collection.

The lotus, which has long stood for tradition, now illuminated in colours that were fresh and modern.

Hundreds of artists from traditional embroidery villages in Thường Tín District, Hà Nội, spent thousands of hours of hard labour bringing this collection to life using sophisticated hand-embroidering methods.

The mosaic-inspired designs and intricate handiwork of the velvet and silk fabrics used in this collection provided the impression of luxury and elegance.

The collection was created especially for the festival with the goal of promoting tourism along the Sài Gòn River. — Photo courtesy of HCM City Áo Dài Festival

Together with preserving cultural heritage, the fusion of contemporary and historical methods resulted in stylish, cutting-edge áo dài.

Designer Nam also took on the role of áo dài ambassador, working with the organiser to carry out promotional activities for the national garment within the framework of the 2023 HCM City Áo Dài Festival.

Designer Đỗ Trịnh Hoài Nam during the collection showcase. He took part in this year’s Áo Dài festival as a designer and áo dài ambassador. — Photo courtesy of HCM City Áo Dài Festival

The festival will take place in HCM City throughout March with a wide range of cultural activities

One of the highlights of the event will be a seminar entitled “Beauty of Vietnamese Áo Dài-Conservation and Development” which is designed for female Consul Generals, spouses of Consul Generals and officials working at diplomatic missions, friendship associations and non-governmental organisations in the city.

Many activities relating to the festival will be held at historical and cultural relic sites and tourist destinations, aiming to promote HCM City as a safe destination with fascinating daily life. VNS


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Special activities at a festival fit for a king



HÀ NỘI An annual commemoration ceremony for the Hùng Kings, considered the founders of Việt Nam, will bring Việt Trì City alive with colours, sounds, rituals and festivities. 

The 10-day event, beginning on April 20, will also be a platform for the Culture and Tourism Week of Ancestral Land in the northern province of Phú Thọ.

People attend a previous Hùng Kings Temple festival. Photo  

The ceremony includes the celebration and incense offering to Lạc Long Quân and Âu cơ – the progenitors of Việt Nam as well as the celebration of Hùng Kings and the flower offering at the famous site where late President Hồ Chí Minh met with the Vanguard Army.

Legend has it that the eldest son of Lạc Long Quân and Âu Cơ was crowned as the ruler and he designated the name Văn Lang to the country, and established the capital city in Phong Châu (present-day Việt Trì City), which marked the beginning of 18 Hùng Kings’ dynasties. 

The festival begins with the “Hùng Temple Festival and Ancestral Land Culture and Tourism Week in 2023” and the “UNESCO-listed Intangible Cultural Heritage Week”.

Other activities include an international conference on Việt Nam’s tourism, culture, heritages and sustainable development, a swimming and stand-up paddle board competition, the northwest tourism fair 2023, and the Hùng Kings Cup of football and volleyball tournaments. 

Visitors can enjoy the Northwestern Tourism Fair in 2023, the Northeast – Phú Thọ trade fair in 2023, the Land Father Food Culture Festival, and a Cultural Camp and Art Festival to celebrate the legacy of the Hùng Kings.

Tourists can also immerse themselves in the rich cultural offerings of Việt Nam at the “Xoan (folk) singing in the ancient village,” featuring traditional performances such as water puppet shows, pounding rice performances and bronze drumming.

Foodies can showcase their skills in contests to make bánh chưng (sticky rice cake) and bánh dày (glutinous rice cake), while fashion enthusiasts can admire the beauty of the Vietnamese national áo dài costume at the Vietnam Áo Dài Festival “Towards the roots”.

For those looking for a more active experience, there are traditional sports competitions and bicycle races hosted by Vietnamese clubs. Additionally, organisers have arranged a farm trip group called “The Colourful Journey to Midland”.

Other cultural, sports, and tourism activities include the exhibition “Cultural and tourism heritage of Việt Nam’s capital areas,” the display of documents and artefacts about festivals and beliefs of the Hùng Kings era, and the art photo exhibition with the theme “Homeland, people of Phú Thọ”. VNS



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