A three-day festival commemorating mythical Vietnamese hero Saint Giong began in Hanoi on Feb. 8.

The annual event at Soc Temple is one of several festivals in the north to honour Saint Giong, a legendary hero who is said to have defeated an army of foreign invaders.

Participants at the Soc Temple festivities took part in offerings to the saint, the moc duc ceremony, symbolising a cleansing process for the temple, and the bamboo procession, which celebrates Saint Giong's martial arts skills with a bamboo weapon used to defeat the invaders.

According to legend, Saint Giong was only three years old when the country was invaded by northern troops. When the infant Giong heard an official from the royal court calling for skilled warriors to defend the motherland, he magically grew in stature.

Last year, the Saint Giong festival was recognised by UNESCO as an example of the world's intangible heritage that should be preserved. It's one of several major festivals across the country during the onset of spring.

In other festivals across the north, people in Ha Nam province begin celebrating the Tich dien (ploughing the rice field) festival on Feb. 9. The three-day festival commemorates the day King Le Dai Hanh ploughed a field to promote farming during the 10th century.

Tens of thousands of visitors also converged on Dong Ky Village, Tu Son town in the northern province of Bac Ninh, on Feb. 6 in the traditional firecracker festival.

Four respected elders from each of the four hamlets in the village were selected to perform rituals and pray for good weather, bumper crops and prosperity.

The festival, which is organised on the fourth day of the first lunar month and lasts for three days, honours General Thien Cuong, who recruited young villagers to fire on the enemy and was later considered the tutelary god of the village.

Hundreds of tourists and local residents witnessed an annual traditional wrestling competition held in the Thua Thien-Hue central province on Feb. 8.

Scores of wrestlers from Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Tri provinces took part in the event held in Thu Le village in Quang Dien district.

The Thu Le Wrestling Festival, begun by local residents more than 100 years ago, was revived recently after disappearing during the war.

The event will be followed by other festivities like the Princess Huyen Tran Festival in Huong Thuy district on February 11, the Sinh Village Wrestling Competition in Quang Dien district on February 12, and the Fish Praying Festival in Phu Vang district on February 14./.