The 5th day of the 5th lunar month on the Chinese lunar calendar is Duan Wu Jie/端午节. This year, 2011, it falls on June 6. There will be a 3 day national holiday in China from June 4 – 6. This traditional observance is popularly called Dragon Boat Festival in English, a holiday made famous by the colorful, long boats raced in Chinese communities around the world each year. Duan Wu Jie involves the legend of the poet Qu Yuan (Chu Yuan/屈原), who committed suicide by jumping into a river – thus the local villagers attempt to distract the fish by beating the water and throwing in food such as zongzi, a signature feature of Duan Wu Jie. Qu Yuan is seen by some as the inspiration for lyrics in Pink Floyd’s The Wall.
Enjoy the holiday – have some zongzi and wish all your friends in Qingdao, “Duan Wu Jie Kuai Le – 端午節快乐“.
The main food eaten on the holiday are the sticky rice dumplings (zongzi/粽子) that have been likened to a kind of Chinese tamale. Zongzi are a triangular shaped bit of sticky rice wrapped in leaves such as banana or lotus. Popular fillings for zongzi include date, peanut, or pork. Some people try to balance an egg on end at noon on the day of Duan Wu Jie – doing so is supposed to foretell good fortune in the coming year. Another tradition often seen here in Qingdao is the placement of Acorus and Artemisia on the outer doors or windows to act as an insect repellent in what is dubbed a “poisonous month” by Chinese farmers.
It has been suggested that the origins of Dragon Boat Festival may be found in ancient dragon worship as well as an agrarian society’s marking of time, since Duan Wu Jie occurs near the summer solstice and is a time to harvest the winter wheat. Whatever the provenance of Dragon Boat Festival, it continues to be an important annual milestone on the Chinese calendar.
Enjoy the holiday – have some zongzi and wish all your friends in Qingdao, “Duan Wu Jie Kuai Le – 端午節快乐”.
The day of the Dragon Boat Festival is infused with the colors and the lingering scent of incense and festival foods permeates the hot summer air. this is the day of “Double Fifth”, which corresponds to the period around the summer solstice (June 21).
The festival was originally an agricultural festival to appease the dragon god of the river; however, it later became a festival to commenorate Qu Yuan, a patriotic poet. Today the Dragon Boat Festival is widely celebrated, especially in Southern and Central China, with river parades, dragon boat races, and rice offering of Zongzi.
The day of the Double Fifth is characterized by the struggle between the dual force of yin and yang as the waxing yang reaches a culminating point with the arrival of the summer and the yin principle, symbolizing darkness and dampness, comes fully into play. Because the Dragon Boat Festival is in the hottest month of the year, evil vapors abound being considered the most “poisonous.” Every attempt is made to harmonized both the yin and yang so that the diseases could be avoided. “Five poisons” and “Five Colors” are considered the most powerful and protective pratices.
Of various images of healers and exorcists that make their annual appearance on the day Double fifth, the most popular are pictures of the monster-scholar Zhong-Kui.
Dragon Boat Festival Traditions
Qu Yuan on Wikipedia
Image Credit @ Alex’s Blog