Chinese Dragon Boat Festival

Chinese Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated on the fifth day of fifth moon. The proper name for this festival is the Upright Sun Festival , but foreigners in China referred to it as the Dragon-Boat Festival.

The Fifth Moon Festival was also noted for its dragon-boat races, especially in the southern provinces, where there are many rivers and lakes. This regatta commemorated the death of Qu Yuan an honest minister who is said to have committed suicide by drowning himself in a river.

The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival falls on the following dates in the Gregorian calendar:

Year 2011MondayJune 6, 2011Chinese Dragon Boat Festival
Year 2012SaturdayJune 23, 2012Chinese Dragon Boat Festival
Year 2013WednesdayJune 12, 2013Chinese Dragon Boat Festival
Year 2014MondayJune 2, 2014Chinese Dragon Boat Festival
Year 2015SaturdayJune 20, 2015Chinese Dragon Boat Festival
Year 2016ThursdayJune 9, 2016Chinese Dragon Boat Festival
Year 2017TuesdayMay 30, 2017Chinese Dragon Boat Festival
Year 2018MondayJune 18, 2018Chinese Dragon Boat Festival
Year 2019FridayJune 7, 2019Chinese Dragon Boat Festival
Year 2020ThursdayJune 25, 2020Chinese Dragon Boat Festival

Qu Yuan was a minister in the kingdom of Chu situated in present-day Hunan and Hubei provinces, during the Warring States period (475 -221 BC). He was upright , loyal and highly esteemed for his wise counsel that had brought peace and prosperity to the kingdom. However, when a dishonest and corrupt prince vilified Qu Yuan, he was disgraced and dismissed from his office. Realizing that the country was now in the hands of evil and corrupt officials, Qu Yuan clasped a large stone and leaped into the Mi Lo river on the fifth day of the fifth moon. Nearby fishermen rushed over and tried to save him, but they were unable even to recover his body. Thereafter , the kingdom declined and was eventually conquered by the kingdom of Qin

The people of Chu, mourning the death of Qu Yuan, threw rice into the river to feed his hungry ghost every year on the fifth day of the fifth moon. One year, the spirit of Qu Yuan appeared and told the mourners that a huge reptile in the river had stolen the rice that had been offered. The spirit advised them to wrap the rice in silk and bind it with five different colored threads before tossing it into the river.

On the Fifth Moon Festival, a glutinous rice pudding called Zongzi was eaten to symbolize the rice offerings to Qu Yuan. Ingredients such as beans, lotus seeds, chestnuts, pork fat and the golden yolk of a salted duck egg were often added to the glutinous rice. The pudding was wrapped with bamboo leaves, bound with a sort of raffia and boiled in salt water for hours.

The dragon-boat races represented the attempts to rescue and recover the body of Qu Yuan. A dragon-boat ranged from fifty to one hundred feet in length with a beam of about five and a half feet, accommodating two paddlers sitting side by side. A wooden dragonhead was attached at the bow, and a dragon tail at the stern. A banner hoisted on a pole was also fastened at the stern. The hull was decorated with a design of red, green and blue scales edged in gold. In the center of the boat was a canopied shrine. Behind the shrine sat drummers, gong-beaters and cymbal-crashers that would set the pace for the paddlers. Men standing at the bow set off firecrackers, tossed rice into the water and made believe they were looking for Qu Yuan. All the noise and pageantry created an atmosphere of gaiety and excitement for the participants and spectators. Competitions were held between different clans, villages and organizations, and winners were awarded medals, banners, jugs of wine and festive meals.

After the races, the wooden head and tail of the dragon were detached and stored either at the clan headquarters or at the local temple. The hull was buried in the muddy river to prevent cracking, warping and shrinkage. The boats were therefore reconditioned annually before the festival.

Now, on the fifth day of the lunar fifth moon, all Chinese people celebrate this festival by eating Zongzi.

Chinese Dragon Boat Festival Food The taste of Zongzi, a pyramid-shaped dumpling made of glutinous rice and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves to give it a special flavor, varies greatly across China. Zongzi is often made of rice mixed with dates in Northern China, because dates are abundant in the area. Eastern China's Jiaxing County is famous for its pork-stuffed Zongzi.In the southern Pro-vince of Guangdong, people stuff Zongzi with pork, ham, chestnuts and other ingredients, making them very rich in flavor. In Sichuan Province, Zongzi is usually served with a sugar dressing. Most people still maintain the tradition of eating Zongzi on the day of the Duanwu Festival. But the special delicacy has become so popular that you can now buy it all the year round.


Source: http://www.chinavoc.com/festivals/Dragonboat.htm



Copyright © 2015 Dr. Herong Yang. All rights reserved.