Dragon Boat Festival
Date: the fifth day of the fifth lunar month
About the origin of Dragon Boat Festival There are a lot of versions, the most influential, the most influential one of which is that it is a festival that commemorates Qu Yuan, This vision has almost been taken as a common sense among the Chinese people.
Qu Yuan (c.340-278BC) was a daf (senior state official in feudal China) in the state of Chu in the Warring States Period. Among the seven states then (Qi, Chu, Yan, Han, Zhao, Wei and Qin), Qin was the most powerful one and it intend to conquer the other six and dominate the world. Qu's capability won the recognition of Chu Huaiwang (Huai King of Chu). However, Qu's opinion that chu should carry out a political reform and cooperate with the other states to fight against Qin met ppposition from his fellow officials. They spoke ill of Qu before Huaiwang, and as result, Huaiwang and as a result, Huaiwang gradually became estranged from Qu, and finally he drove Qu out of the capital of Chu. Finally, Chu was defeated by Qin. Grieved and indignant, Qu Yuan jumped into Miluo River and ended his life. That day was just the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in 278 BC.
When people got the news that Qu Yuan had drowned himself, they all got very sad and rowed to get his dead body but failed. To save the body from the fish, people threw food into the river to distract their attention. From then on, people ale\ways row dragon boats on rivers to mourn over Qu Yuan on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month every year. Moreover, they fill the bamboo cans with rive and throw them into rivers as memorial ceremony. It was said that once someone met Qu Yuan by the river and Qu said, "The food you gave me has been robbed by the dragon. You'd better wrap the rice with bamboo or reed leaves and fasten it with colored threads, for these things are what dragons are most afraid of." Since then, people began to commemorate Qu Yuan with Zongzi which are made of glutinous rive wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves, and thus zongzi become the traditional food of Dragon Boat Festival.
In this way, the tradition of eating zongzi and rowing dragon boats was handed down to the later generations.
The second legend of Dragon Boat Festival is related to historical figure: Wu Zixu, Wu (?-484BC) was from the state of Chu in the Warring States Period. With his father and brothers having been killed by the king of Chu, he sought refuge with the state of Wu and helped it fight all the way to the city of Ying, the capital of Chu. He dug out the dead body of the king of Chu from the tomb and whipped it three hundred times as a kind of revenge. Later the state of Wu got involved in a war with Yue. Wu Zixu advised the king of Wu not to compromise with Yue, but the king believed false a accusations about Wu Zixu and granted him a sword to commit suicide. Wu said, "After my death, please dig out my eyes and hang them on the eastern door of the capital of Wu so that I can see how Yue's army march in Wu's land and conquer in.' Then he killed himself. The King of Wu was irritated by these words. He issued an order to put Wu Zixu's body in a leather bag and threw it into the river on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. Therefore Dragon Boat Festival is also considered as a commemoration of Wu Zixu.
A third version of the origin of Dragon Boat Festival is said to honor Cao E, a filial daughter in Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220). Cao's father got drowned in the river and the body could not be found for days. The only 14-year-old Cao E cried day and night by the river and finally jumped into it on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. Five days later, she returned with her father's bod. To commemorate Cao E's filial behavior, people built a "Cao E Temple" at the place where she jumped into the river. Apart from that, the village she lived was rechristened as "Cao E Village'" and the river she jumped in was named "Cao E River."
Dragon Boat Festival has lasted for more than two thousand years I China, Generally speaking, the custom of celebrating is more or less the same over different areas, such as Dragon-Boat races, eating Zongzi, wearing perfume sachets, and putting mugwort or calamus at home.
Dragon-Boat race is an aquatic athletic sport which has had al long history in China. In some areas it is called "rowing Dragon Boats" or "Dragon-Boat competition." The custom of dragon- Boats competition on Dragon Boat Festival prevails in the southern part of the drainage of Yangtze River. In the 29th year of Qianlong's rule in the Qing Dynasty (1736), Taiwan started to hold Dragon-boat competition, and Jiang Yuanjun, the Magistrate of the Taiwan Prefecture, then had once presided over a friendly contest. Nowadays2there are Dragon-boat races in Taiwan and HongKong on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month every year. Besides, Dragon Boats have also found their ways to foreign lands like Japan and Korea. In the year of 1980, Dragon-Boat race was taken into the list of the Chinese national sports events. The "Qu Yuan Cup" Dragon-Bota race is being held every year. On June 16th in 1991 (the fifth day of the fifth lunar month), the first international Dragon-Boat race Festival was hold in the second hometown of Qu Yuan: the city of Yueyang, Hunan Province. Before the competition there was a "dragon-Head ceremony" which have both kept the essence of traditional ceremony and also added some elements of the modern time.The dragonhead was carried into the ancestral temple of Qu Yuan and was "shanghong" (was draped a length of red cloth) by the sports man. Then the host delivered a funeral oration and "Kaiguang" (drew the eyes) on the dragonhead. After that all fo the attendants bowed three times to the dragonhead, and then it was finally carried to Miluo River ?the competition site. Over 600,000 people attended the competition, trade fair and party, which makes it and unprecedented grand occasion.
Eating Zongzi on Dragon Boat Festival is another important tradition among Chinese people. Zongzi has had a long history and it has developed a lot of types. It is recorded that early in the Spring-Autumn Period Zongzi had appeared in an embryonic form as "horn millet," which the millet was wrapped by the leaves of wild rice and "bamboo-canned Zong", which was the rice cooked in a sealed bamboo can.
In the Jin Dynasty (265-420), zongzi was officially accepted as the food eaten on Dragon Boat Festival. Then in the North and South dynasties there appeared mixed zongzi in which the rice was stuffed with meat, chestnuts, jujube, red beans and so on. Moreover, zongzi could also be given to relatives and friends as presents. In the Tang Dynasty the rice used to make zongzi had been "as white as the jade," and conic-shaped and diamond shaped zongzi began to show up. The word of "Datang zongzi" (zongzi in the Tang imperial) even appeared in some Japanese literature. In the Song Dynasty "Mijian zong" (zongzi with glazed fruit in) appeared. The poet Su Dongpo (1037-1101) also wrote about zongzi in his poems that "In zongzi I can always see waxberries"). In the period of Yuan(1206-1368) and Ming dynasties, the leaves with which zongzi are wrapped changed from wild rice to bamboo leaves, and later the reed leaves were also put into use. The varieties of supplementary materials also increased, for example, bean paste, pork, pine nuts, jujubes and walnuts had already appeared.
Even by now, the Chinese families are still soaking glutinous rice, washing the bamboo or reed leaves and making zongzi whenever the fifth lunar month approaches. Moreover, more varieties of zongzi are developed. Judging from the stuffing, the jujube-stuffed zongzi are developed. Judging from the stuffing, the jujube-stuffed zongzi in Beijing plays a main role in the North, while stuffing like bean past, rice, ham and yolk are common in the south, in which zhongzi has been popular in China for thousands of years. It even crossed the border and spread to Korea, Japan, and the counties in Southeast Asia.
The saying goes that "wearing willows on Pure Bright Festival while keeping aicao (mugwort) on Dragon boat Festival." People believe that the fifth lunar month is deleterious, so putting some mugwort and calamus at home is regarded as an important activity on Dragon Boat Festival. Every family will clean their doors and put the mugwort and calamus on the lintel or hang them in the ceilings to expel the evil spirit and prevent diseases. Aicao is also called JIa'ai, aicao. Its stalk and leaves contain a kind of volatilizable aromadendrin, the special aroma of which can drive off insects and keep the air crisp. The calamus is a kind of perennial water herbage. Its long and narrow leaves also contain a kind of volatilizable aromadendrin which can make people refreshed, can do good to their bones and kill insects. Seen in this way, there are actually some elements of truth for the ancient people to keep mugwort and calamus at home, and thus Dragon Boat Festival is also known as the "Health Festival".
Hanging Zhong Kui's picture to scare off ghost is also a special custom of Dragon Boat Festival. In the drainage of Yangtze River and Huai River, people all hang the picture of Zhong Kui to guard their family from ghosts. The story of Zhong Kui goes like this: Tang Xuangzong (an emperor of the Tang Dynasty (658-762) was suffering from a plague, one day he dreamed of two ghosts chasing each other in the imperial court. The younger ghost that was in red stole Concubine Yang's sachet and the emperor's flute and ran around the imperial court. The elder one hat wore a gown and a cap, however, caught the younger one, dug out his eyes and swallow them down. Xuanzong cried out and the elder ghost said, "My name is Zhong Kui. I failed in the imperial examination, but I'd like to help your majesty get rid of ghosts." When the king woke up, he recovered instantly. Afterwards he asked Wu Daozi the painter to draw a picture of Zhong Kui based on his dream. Then he issued and orders that the picture should be hung on the Dragon Boat Festival to guard against ghosts.
The custom of drinking realgar liquor is very popular among people in the drainage of Yangtze River. Realgar liquor is a kind of liquor with realgar in it, and realgar is a kind of mineral containing sulfide which can keep the vipers and insects off. "The Story of a White Snake" which is still well-knowing today has a scene that the human-shaped white Snake return to her original from after drinking the realgar liquor. Thus people believed that the poisonous insects such as snakes, scorpions and centipedes can be scared off by the realgar liquor, and drinking realgar liquor can prevent them from the deleterious stuff and keep them healthy.
There is also a custom of wearing sachets on Dragon Boat Festival. The sachets are said to indicate preventing evils but are actually a kind of decoration on the clothes. In the sachets there are usually vermilion, realgar, and some aromatic substances. Wrapped in the silk, these fragrant stuffs give out spells of faint scent. You can tie all shapes of sachets into a string with colorful threads. It will be very pretty.
Up to now, Dragon Boat Festival has developed into a very popular and grand festival in China, and the ancient stories and legends has given it remarkable vitality that can last for ages.