Sat, June 23, 2012
China > Mainland > 2012 Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Festival passes on tradition

2012-06-23 13:04:53 GMT2012-06-23 21:04:53(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Children make Zongzi, a pyramid-shaped dumpling made of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves, in Yangzhou City, east China's Jiangsu Province, June 23, 2012. Various activities including eating Zongzi, holding dragon boat races, were held across the country to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival on Saturday. (Xinhua/Meng Delong)

BEIJING, June 23 (Xinhua) -- The Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day on the fifth month on the Chinese lunar calendar, was celebrated Saturday across the nation, and in space as well.

Dragon boat races were organized without a hitch as water level of the rivers and lakes in south China have risen recently due to heavy rains.

From space, three astronauts who are performing China's space mission in the orbiting Tiangong-1 module also sent their festival greetings to all Chinese.

The festival is to commemorate the death of Qu Yuan, a patriot poet during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), who committed suicide by flinging himself into the Miluo River after the capital of Chu, his mother kingdom, fell to the enemy.

A dragon boat race is held as part of the Hanjiang Water Throwing Festival in the nearby waters of Shishi, southeast China's Fujian Province, June 23, 2012. Every year, residents from southeast China's Fujian and Taiwan will take part in the Hanjiang Water Throwing Festival in the waters of the Taiwan Strait, as a means to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The event was listed as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2011. (Xinhua/Lin Shanchuan)

DRAGON BOAT EFFECTS

In the river where Qu Yuan jumped into, the annual dragon boat race was held by the local government for its eighth year.

"People came to rescue Qu Yuan after he threw himself into the Miluo River, which was suddenly crowded with hundreds of boats. It later on became a tradition to have a boat race every year," said Xu Weiming, curator of Qu Yuan Memorial Museum in Miluo city in central China's Hubei province.

"The race was neither feisty nor riddled with profits. People believe that to win the race will bring them good luck for a whole year," said Huang Huashan, a folklore expert in the city.

The boat races have always attracted crowds of people to join with their beautiful dragon boats and hundreds of thousands people to cheer from the banks, Huang said. The municipal government changed the races into a sport in 2005.

Now dragon boat races are not only held in China but around the world.

"Dragon boat crafts should not be lost in this generation. I would like to teach anyone if he or she wants," the old man said.

Chidlren get sachets which will be handed out as gifts to citizens after attending a ceremony to commemorate Qu Yuan, a patriot poet during the Warring State Period (475-221 BC), in Nantong City, east China's Jiangsu Province, June 23, 2012. The Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day on the fifth month on the lunar calendar, is believed to be designed to commemorate the death of Qu Yuan. Various activities including eating Zongzi, holding dragon boat races, were held across the country to celebrate the festival on Saturday. (Xinhua/Huang Zhe)

CULTURE CARRIERS

Another symbol of the festival lies in zongzi, rice dumplings that used to be thrown in the river for the fish to prevent Qu's body being eaten.

Later it became a special food of Chinese people in and out China for the Dragon Boat Festival, which is especially loved by the merchants.

In small towns like Quzici along the Miluo River, people still enjoy packing the dumplings themselves as a family activity, while in many big cities, people flock to supermarkets to buy zongzi.

Over the last 2,000 years, zongzi had been spread from the river bank to overseas countries, which made the small little thing to be one of the most traditional food in Chinese history, said the curator Xu Weiming.

"As a carrier of Chinese traditional culture, the food has become a link between Chinese people at home and abroad," Xu said.

Besides zongzi, ancient Chinese believed that the fifth day on the fifth month on the lunar calendar was the most "toxic" day in the year, said Chen Jing, deputy director of cultural and natural heritage institute of Najing University.

To avoid bites from mosquitos and other insects, ancient Chinese hung fragrant herbs at home and attached sachets containing fragrant herbs to their clothes, Chen said.

People drink wine to drive away diseases, and clean their rooms with brooms to keep demons away, Chen said.

Chidlren attend a ceremony to commemorate Qu Yuan, a patriot poet during the Warring State Period (475-221 BC), in Nantong City, east China's Jiangsu Province, June 23, 2012. The Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day on the fifth month on the lunar calendar, is believed to be designed to commemorate the death of Qu Yuan. Various activities including eating Zongzi, holding dragon boat races, were held across the country to celebrate the festival on Saturday. (Xinhua/Huang Zhe)

CHANTING POEMS

Poetry chanting have also been held for years in the hometown of Qu Yuan in Zigui county in Hubei.

"Qu Yuan's spirits are bitter medicine for the minds of Chinese people. He build up a tatoo of integrity for the nation," said poet Liu Zhongyang at the poem activity.

Twenty poets and 40 descendants of Qu Yuan commemorated him by reciting poems.

"It is the tradition of holding poetry competitions on the festival that encourages the farmers to write poems during their busy days," said Huang Qiong, president of Saotan Poetry Society, one of the poetry societies in the small town.

"To write poems is not pretending to be arty. It is only the true emotions in my chest and the true praise to Qu Yuan," said 87-year-old poet Li Guojie.

| PRINT | RSS

Add Your Comments:

Your Name:
Your Country:
Comment:
(English Only)
 
Please read our Terms of Service. Messages that harass, abuse or threaten others; have obscene or otherwise objectionable content; have spam, commercial or advertising content or links may be removed.

SPECIAL COVERAGE

MOST VIEWED

LATEST VIDEO

PICTURE GALLERY