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The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya

Here in China today is another of the million celebrations and festivals that can fill an entire years calendar. .

Today is known as Dragon Boat Festival or Double Fifth Day

The Dragon Boat Festival which is also known as Double Fifth Day falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. From what I can gather there are many different stories as to where and how this festival came to light. But the most popular version and the one officially accepted is about Qu Yuan, a minister during the Warring States Period. (475 - 221 BC).

<u>Legend of the Dragon Boat Festival's Origin</u>

At the end of the Zhou Dynasty (1100 - 221 BC), the country known presently as China had fallen into a state of conflict and despair. The Zhou Dynasty had now ruled for several centuries but many other states were trying their best to rise above being a feudal domain and become their own kingdoms. One of these states known as Qin finally rose above them all and once it became victorious it unified all of China under one rule for the first time in history. Qu Yuan served as minister to the Zhou Emperor.

As he spent his life fighting against the corruption within the courts he was both loved and feared by the other court officials. Upon Qu Yuan's advice to avoid conflict with the Qin Kingdom along with his repeated advice aimed at how to deal with political corruption, these same officials pressured the Zhou Emperor whom soon removed him from the courts service and sent him into exile.

During his time in exile, which lasted for many years he traveled far and wide. He taught and wrote poetry and here is how he became Qu Yuan the legend! In 278 BC the capital of Chu was lost to the state of Qin. Upon hearing this Qu Yuan wrote the following poem and in a state of despair he threw himself into the Milou River.

His last poem reads:

Many a heavy sigh I have in my despair, Grieving that I was born in such an unlucky time. I yoked a team of jade dragons to a phoenix chariot, And waited for the wind to come, to sour up on my journey

Qu Yuan was adored by the common peoples whom then rushed to the river and on long boats they beat drums to scare the fish away. They then began throwing Zong Zi into the river to feed both Qu Yuan and the fish to stop them eating his body.

For many years after this, local peoples would row their boats down their local river and throw sections of bamboo filled with rice into the water as an offering to Qu Yuan. Now the traditional food known as Zing Zi is thrown into the water as an offering to him.

<u>The Modern Dragon Boat Festival</u>

Supposedly from that time until the present, people have continued to celebrate Qu Yuan's death by way of the Dragon Boat Festival where they have Dragon Boat Races, eat Zong Zi and do many other fun filled activities.

The Dragon Boats bring huge crowds to the river sides where they sit to watch brightly coloured boats race each other down the river. The boats themselves can be anywhere from forty to one hundred feet in length. Their front is shaped like a dragons open mouth and the rear is shaped as a dragon's tail. An unbelievable eighty rowers can power them as they race other Dragon Boats to grab the flag at the end of a water course. Along with the rowers there is also the flag catcher and a drummer. Prior to entering the race the Dragon Boats must be brought to life by way of a sacred ceremony when the Dragon Boat receives its eyes

<u>Zong Zi (pyramid-shaped dumplings) </u> Some say that there is another part to the legend. Some say that someone met Qu Yuan's spirit on the same river bank. Qu Yuan supposedly told this person that all the food offered to him had been eaten by a dragon. Qu Yuan then told him that dragons fear bamboo leaves and 'five-coloured' thread. Therefore people began making the traditional food known as Zong Zi.

Zong Zi is glutinous/sticky rice with a small filling of pork, beef or something sweet. It is shaped into a pyramid and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. It was traditionally held together with 'five-coloured' thread but now many people use normal thread of strips of dried bamboo leaves.

<u>Talisman and Charms</u>

As the Dragon Boat Festival is held at the beginning of summer, people also wear talismans to fend of evil spirits whom supposedly bring diseases. People also place a picture of Zhong Kui at the door of their home as he is the guardian against evil spirits.

Adults can drink Xiong Huang Wine and children can carry silk pouches filled with fragrance to ward off evil spirits. Some also believe that if you can balance a raw egg on its end at exactly mid day, the rest of the year you will be very lucky!

What ever mate, I'm just hoping to watch the coloured Dragon Boats and one day get through the billions of Zong Zi that now fills my fridge. Unlike Moon Cakes I actually love Zong Zi. Some foreigners say they are too bland but many like me really like their taste. How sticky are they? If a plane wing falls off in mid flight and if someone had Zong Zi onboard you could pretty much stick the wing back on and it would stay until something more appropriate could be used.

The soundtrack to this festive entry was by the awesome SOD! The album that my poor neighbours had to live through was 'Live at Budokan'

Dragon Boat Festival Zong Zi

Dragon Boat Festival Zong Zi

Dragon Boat Festival Zong Zi (1)

Dragon Boat Festival Zong Zi (1)

Dragon Boat Festival Zong Zi (2)

Dragon Boat Festival Zong Zi (2)

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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