June 22: Dragon Boat Festival, China
Dragon Boat Festival, China
"China: Duan Wu Jie or Tuen Ng, the Dragon Boat Festival occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month, considered 'evil' and unlucky in Asian culture. In Asian culture, dragons are used to scare away the evil associated with this unlucky date. The festival may have originated to counter this taboo, but it also commemorates the ill-fated rescue attempt of China's favorite patriotic poet, Chu Yuan, who had been exiled by the Emperor Huai from his beloved Chu state during the Warring States period. As the Chu State declined, it was conquered by the powerful Qin State, and the poet was so overcome with despair that he took a large stone into the Miluo River and drowned himself on this day (ca. 277 BC). Unable to save him, the people threw bamboo and mugwort leaves stuffed with cooked rice into the water so that the shrimp, crabs, and other scavenging fish would spare the body of their hero. To commemorate this, people toss sacrifices of rice into the water and eat tzungtzu (zongzi), rice dumplings filled with ham or bean paste and wrapped in bamboo leaves. The boat races on this day attract large crowds. The boats are large canoes, usually highly decorated, with carved dragon heads and tails. The actual date of the festival, now observed around the world, not only varies with the lunar calendar, but may also vary with the location."
Source: Earth, Moon and Sky
Pictured: A boy plays a traditional egg-standing game in Taipei, Taiwan, June 22, 2004. The traditional game is part of the Dragon Boat Festival activities. Legend has it that at noon on the day of the Dragon Boat Festival, it is possible to stand eggs on end. Whoever can do this is said to be assured of good luck all year. [Reuters]
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