What’s all this about dragons?
No, it’s not quite Game of Thrones but you may have been hearing about our forthcoming June 18 public holiday called Dragon Boat Festival.This week we’re going to offer you a little more insight into this mysterious festival and the activities enjoyed which usually mark the start of summer.
The official name of The Dragon Boat festival is Duanwu Festival. Wu (午) in the name Duanwu in Chinese has similar pronunciation as the number 5, and thus many regions have traditions of eating food that is related to the number 5 during the festival. For example, the Guangdong and Hong Kong regions have the tradition of having congee made from 5 different beans.
So whats the story? Well it goes something like this:
The story best known in modern China holds that the festival commemorates the death of the poet and minister Qu Yuan (c. 340–278 BC) of the ancient state of Chu during the Warring States period of the Zhou Dynasty. A cadet member of the Chu royal house, Qu served in high offices. However, when the king decided to ally with the increasingly powerful state of Qin, Qu was banished for opposing the alliance and even accused of treason. During his exile, Qu Yuan wrote a great deal of poetry. Twenty-eight years later, Qin captured Ying, the Chu capital. In despair, Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River.
It is said that the local people, who admired him, raced out in their boats to save him, or at least retrieve his body. This is said to have been the origin of dragon boat races. When his body could not be found, they dropped balls of sticky rice into the river so that the fish would eat them instead of Qu Yuan's body. This is said to be the origin of zongzi.
In general, now the day is treated as a fun activity day for friends and family. There will be plenty of boat races going on as well as other fun games in local parks. Zongzi is a simple but enjoyable treat of sticky rice wrapped in bamboo. It’s eaten all year round but be prepared to gorge on it during Dragon Boat Festival.
We hope you have a great day… pack your sunscreen and put on your shades… summer is definitely here!