A Travellerspoint blog

The Dragon Boat Festival Less The Festival

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya, Dragon Boats! Let's talk about Dragon Boats and Dragon Boat races. As this is China, you would expect crowds to be cheering and contestants to be paddling as if Qu Yuan himself was watching them from the depths below. You would expect brightly coloured Dragon Boats to be gleaming in the sunshine whilst gliding effortlessly through the waters of the local river. You would expect people to be clad in their colourful village minority silks jumping up and down cheering on their favourites whilst devouring baskets full of the traditional Dragon Boat Festival food 'Zong Zi'. So I find out that there actually were Dragon Boat races in Shaowu..... .....LAST FREAKIN YEAR!

I don't know how many people I asked and they all said the same thing. No, no Dragon Boat Festival in Shaowu. Today (a year later) several people said to me 'Pity, no festival this year. The Dragon Boat races last year were beautiful and much fun.' What can I say? The Chinese are not known for their communication skills. Turn up to class only to be told you don't have that class as the math's teacher booked it last week. Ask a million times when summer or winter break begins to be told 'we don't know' and then to be told at a later date 'summer break begins tomorrow'. Living in China simply put is like this; Make plans for the afternoon with a heap of friends only to be asked by the school; Are you ready? Ready for what? The big dinner in ten minutes. Oh gee, that. I must have forgotten all about it between not being told and never having been told. When was it organised? Last week/month/year/decade. Oh, I can see why I was never told. Spontaneous plans right! Had to wait for the right moon! Argh, the longer you are here the less it bothers you. Somehow it just embeds itself into your 'new way of thinking in Chinese' kind of thing. If it doesn't then you are in for one hell of a fight and a fight you will never win. Things just seem to happen here, kind of like; Oh, the school has no classes tomorrow. Why? Um.....public holiday. The public holiday is next Monday. Um.....no we changed it to tomorrow. When? Just now. Why? Um.....I don't know why. They can pretty much do anything at any time without question. The big guy of the school, factory etc can just change things or create something and within five minutes everyone's told, no one questions it and foreigners are left scratching their heads as to how a school or factory etc can simply change a public holiday etc at will. The Dragon Boat Festival public holiday was supposed to be tomorrow (Monday) and Yan and Crew called me and said, hey we are all going here and there tomorrow at 9:30 be ready. But I have classes tomorrow at 9:00am. But tomorrow is a Public Holiday. Huh? Wasn't Friday the public holiday? Anyhow, back to the Dragon Boat races. This morning I rose early and headed down to the river expecting or hoping to find cheering crowds and colourful Dragon Boats and what did I find. Nothing, not even a few wanna be young kids pretending to be in Dragon Boat races. I spent the day walking around the city trying to find any traces of the fact that it was actually the Dragon Boat Festival. Come on, the Chinese are known all over the world for their dragon boat races! I'm sure in China town in Melbourne more evidence could be found. Then I found a copy of the latest Indiana Jones film. It no longer mattered that it was the Dragon Boat Festival less the entire festival. It no longer mattered that there wasn't a single wanna be Dragon Boat dude hanging around the river. What mattered now was whether the audio would be in Chinese or English. (Or in Russian with Polish subtitles - that can't be changed of course!) What mattered now was whether it was a kind of good copy or a kind of goodish/baddish copy (Both of which would be filmed in the cinema as it was too early for a 'real' 'fake' copy). What mattered now was whether the movie would actually be on the DVD. (Among the other eighteen movies which also included the latest Narnia release 'Prince Caspan'). What did matter is that I had a bag full of my own Zong Zi. (Doubled as Canadian Jo gave me all of hers aswell) What did matter was that I had my own little cardboard Dragon Boat. (That one of my students had given me as a present). But what mattered most was the fact that I had Indiana Jones! Indiana Jones, I always knew that you would come walking through my door again some day! PS: below is a heap of information on the history of the Dragon Boat Festival. Beers N Noodles toya.....shane ________________________________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was the funky Rio Do Brazil The album was 'Do Brazil Disk II' ________________________________________________

<u>Dragon Boat Festival / Double Fifth Day</u></b> 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></b> 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. <u>His last poem reads: </u>[/i] [/i] Many a heavy sigh I have in my despair,[/i] Grieving that I was born in such an unlucky time.[/i] I yoked a team of jade dragons to a phoenix chariot,[/i] And waited for the wind to come, to sour up on my journey [/i] 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></b> 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></b> 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></b> 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 one day 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.

Zong Zi &#38;amp; The Dragon Boat Festival

Zong Zi &#38;amp; The Dragon Boat Festival


Zong Zi &#38;amp; The Dragon Boat Festival 01

Zong Zi &#38;amp; The Dragon Boat Festival 01


Zong Zi &#38;amp; The Dragon Boat Festival 02

Zong Zi &#38;amp; The Dragon Boat Festival 02

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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