Dragon Boat (Double Fifth) Festival

The Dragon Boat Winning Team | POC's photos on Flickr

The Dragon Boat Winning Team | POC’s photos on Flickr

Another Festival is upon us. “Duan Wu Jie” or “Double Fifth Festival” (as it falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the traditional Chinese calendar) was originally celebrated as the “Dragon Festival”. Since the death of Qu Yuan however, in the Warring States Period, it has become known as the “Dragon Boat Festival”.

This politician and poet, from the Chu State, committed suicide by drowning himself in the Mi Luo River, in what’s now called Hunan Province. The local people were shocked by the loss of this popular figure, and frantically rowed their boats to the spot he was last sighted, flinging rice and other food into the water to prevent fish (and even dragons) from eating him. Folklore is told that Qu Yuan later appeared in spirit form and told the people to wrap the rice and food in silk, as an offering to appease the dragons; and so they did but later exchanged the silk for bamboo leaves as they were more plentiful. So began the tradition of dragon boat racing and the making and eating of Zong Zi!

In Haikou, this holiday (re-gazetted in 2008) is tomorrow, Wednesday 16th June, 2010. Many of the schools, however, kept their doors open for business last weekend and have taken Monday and Tuesday off instead, so they can roll 3 days of holiday together. The main activity on this holiday is to make “Zong Zi” ~ the ubiquitous sticky rice dumplings made this time of the year.

I took time to go to Xin Po, a small town near Haikou, to visit friends and see my god-daughter. The weather was oppressively hot and humid, but the people of Xin Po are always friendly to me. While there, I watched them make Zong Zi, and my friends estimated there would be over 100,000 Zong Zi made in Xin Po alone!

The following images of women making Zong Zi are from a trip I took to Liuzhou, in Guangxi-Zhuang Autonomous Region, on Spring Festival, 2006.

Chinese Women Making Zong Zi

Making Zong Zi images by drs2biz, on Flickr

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About drs2biz

Repatriated Australian now living in St Kilda after spending 10 years in China. Sliding towards retirement.
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