Dragon Boat Festival 2012
Dragon Boat festival.
Anticipation of the 2012 Dragon Boat Festival is in the air. This year, the Chinese lunar calendar points to June 23rd as the fifth day and fifth moon. Chu Yuan (Qu Yuan), a masterful Chinese historical poet committed suicide by drowning in the Milo River on that particular day over 2000 years ago and has been remembered and honoured with this tribute ever since. The period of celebration is extended by including both the day before and the day after as holidays.
Chu Yuan was the Prime Minister of Chu when King Huai was expanding the boundaries of his kingdom in a war with six other states. Chu Yuan was seen as a disloyal traitor in the way he was portrayed by Zi Lan, an aristocrat of the time. In the midst of accusations that he didn’t agree with the use of force for the purpose of acquiring new territory, he was permanently exiled. Yet, he ultimately chose to die rather than live to see his beloved country occupied by opposing forces.
Some of his followers took to their boats to search the river for his body. Others tossed food into the water to feed the fish so they wouldn’t eat Chu Yuan. People have continued going through the same motions ceremoniously since that time to pay tribute to this respected poet and great patriot. Several traditional customs will once again be shared with the world during the Dragon Boat Festival 2012.
Housecleaning will be done in preparation for the Dragon Boat Festival of 2012 as it has been in previous years. Calamus and mugwort leaves will be placed over entrances to ward off sickness. This tradition might actually be beneficial as the scents act as mosquito repellents and natural air purifiers.
Racing dragon boats commemorates the searching of the waters by boat when Chu Yuan drowned. Both ends of the boats are decorated with dragon heads and a lone drummer sits up front to provide the rhythmic beat for the rowers. Legend holds that the winner of the race carries good fortune home to his village.
In much of China, eating zongzi is symbolic of using food to keep the fish away from Chu Yuan’s body in the river. Zongzi is sticky rice wrapped in reeds or the leaves of bamboo. Some people still toss the wrapped rice into the water.
Another tradition of the Dragon Boat Festival is to protect children from harm by wearing a perfumed pouch and silken threads of five different colours. Children attach the pouches stitched with the silk threads to their clothing. Some opt to wear the threads, believed to have healing properties, as bracelets, anklets and necklaces.
In keeping strictly with tradition, the children must remain completely silent while the threads are being tied on their bodies and must leave them on for a specified duration of time. Directly following the first downpour of summer, the threads are tossed into the river. Following all of these steps is supposed to prevent serious illnesses.
The festival has become an annual international event taking place all over the world. New Zealand, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Japan and numerous other countries keep the legend of Chu Yuan alive while promoting fitness and sportsmanship through competitive activities. The Riau Islands, Malaysia and Singapore are a few that join the list in East Asia. Mark your calendar to attend a Dragon Boat Festival of 2012 near you.
If you are one of the many planning to attend the Dragon Boat festival be sure to check our accommodation specials.