It is likely that the name Hùng Vương is a combination of the two Sino-Vietnamese words Hùng, which means "brave" and Vương, which means "king". The name Hùng Vương might have originally been a title bestowed on a chieftain. The Hùng Vương would have been the head chieftain of Văn Lang/ Âu Lac which at the time was composed of feudal communities of rice farmers (similar to the way the Holy Roman Emperor was elected to rule by fellow German princes).
The first Hùng king, Kinh Dương Vương, came to power in 2879 BC, ruling an area covering what is now North Vietnam and part of southern China. He founded the Hồng Bàng Dynasty, whose members ruled Vietnam until 258 BC. So much of the vestiges from this time is now lost to the ages. The second dynasty of Hùng kings was founded by Lạc Long Quân, son of Kinh Dương Vương.
The descendants took the title of Hùng Vương after the first king, and many Vietnamese folktales include mention them. Stories tell of the heroics of eighteen different dynasties of Hùng Vươngs (one explains the introduction of the watermelon with the help of Hùng Vương X) but fail to account for the numerous unknown rulers of Vietnam during their two and a half millennia of sovereignty.
Hùng Kings' Temple festival
The Vietnamese government in 2007 announced that there was a new public holiday in Vietnam called the Hùng Kings' Festival at the Hùng Temple. It celebrates the Hùng kings on the 10th day of the third lunar month. However King Hùng Vương is not universally known among the younger generation.
- Travel Vietnam "Dynastic era - The ancient Hồng Bàng Dynasty of the Hùng kings is considered by many Vietnamese as the first.. ."
- Origines: the streets of Vietnam : a historical companion J. Wills Burke - 2001 "HÙNG VƯƠNG (HÙNG KINGS) As legend tells it, Vietnam evolved over the millennia from its origins in the mountains northwest of Hà Nội. There, in today”s Phú Thọ Province, the Hùng kings established a dynasty that ruled for hundreds of ..."
- Philip Taylor Modernity and Re-Enchantment: Religion in Post-Revolutionary Vietnam Page 68 2007 "Hùng Kings' Holy Land Forever - The Đổi Mới state's commitment to preserving and promoting the values of ancestor worship are demonstrated with great pomp and circumstance at the annual death-day festival for the Hùng kings.
- Viet Nam social sciences: Issues 1-6 2003 The Hùng Kings Temple festival: Every year at the end of Spring people throughout the country organize pilgrimages to the Hùng Temple.
- Marie-Carine Lall, Edward Vickers Education As a Political Tool in Asia Page 153 - 2009 "... the young generation is not passionate about the history of their country (according to Dương Trung Quốc, a survey showed at the end of the 1990s that up to 40 per cent of the students did not know who King Hùng Vương was)."