• Tag Archives Dragon Boat
  • Dragon Boat Festival 2015

    This year the Dragon Boat Festival (aka Duanwu Jie) fell on June 21. If you would like to know more about the holiday in general then please check out my previous blog. If you have any questions then please let me know and Ill do my best to answer any questions.

    Micah and I went out for lunch that day and while we were walking home we came across a Dragon Boat Festival event. How about that!? Well actually it wasn’t like we just turned a corner and there it was. We could actually here it from blocks away. So when we took a path across the street we could kind of see what was going on, it just drew us in.

    We crossed the road to the Rainbow mall’s plaza, we were greeted by dozens of people in beautiful costumes, loud music, and a sea of smiling happy faces. Walking over you could see that there were several areas that had different things going on. The first one we noticed was the stage where a man was singing in a rock style (which is not typical for the mainstream pop music of China). I might be wrong but to me it sounded like he was trying to imitate some Western types of singing. Though it was fun to listen to. What do you think?

    The next act was a duet from the two people that served also as hosts throughout the show. They did well. Its really interesting to hear the differences in Chinese singing compared with western singing.

    Third act actually comes in two parts. Partway through the performance the sound cut out. Micah had a hypothesis that it was because it kept overheating. Though we’ll never quite know for sure. After the sound cut out the dancers did a great job trying to continue, but ultimately stopped. I wont post that video in this blog, but I did upload it.


    One of my favorite events was a surprise, Gangnam Style (by Psy). The dance also was cut short by the sound but was still fun. It was preformed by a Dragon Boat Festival rice ball called a Zong zi (see blog for more information), a pink kitty, a tiger, and a ram/sheep. After the sound cut out the Zongzi decided she didnt want to wait it out and clumsily found a seat right there on stage while the others tried to look cute and happy to buy some time.

    The next two act were wonderful. There was a solo sung by the male host. he did a wonderful job. He had some sort of ribbon or something on his very red suit that makes him look like the first prize at a state fair showing.

    Then there was a fantastic Chinese umbrella dance. It was so beautiful. The costumes are marvelous.


    Last but least was a final solo from the female host. Out of all the songs this one was my favorite. I can understand a bit of the song and can hear a lot more of the individual syllables through beautiful vocals. I know these types of vocals are not every one’s cup of tea but I hope those that dont like it can experience this as a sample of China and appreciate her training and effort. This song is one I have heard before; it is named Yue Hao Yue Ling. It speaks of how things will get better and better, quite a nice sentiment for sure.


    In front of the stage was an area where I think  you could hang wishes and also an area (paid area) where you could make the Zongzi with family beside where kids could decorate canvas. Some artists painted beautiful water colors and while we watched a cameraman filming the event decided to film us watching. We both got nervous so I’m sure we weren’t that interesting. Below are those additional pictures.

    Till next time,

    May the road rise to meet you.

    Hanging wishes
    Its quite customary for people to write down prayers or wishes for a holiday or time period. I think that is what this is.
    Families making Zongzi together
    Making Zong zi is part of the holiday, but it is a family part so you can see a mixture of 3 generations making it together.
    Videographer filmed us watching the event.
    There were so many people surprised that we were there, even the camera man.
    Beautiful hand painted pictures.
    Beautiful hand painted pictures.
    Hand painting of a character
    This is a representation of a character, i believe from some ancient stories.






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  • Dragon Boat Festival, An Overview

    Today is the Dragon Boat Festival.

    Many schools and companies were off yesterday and will be off on Monday for the observance of the holiday. The holiday traffic has been pretty bad. My normal commute takes about 25 minutes but I finally got to my destination about 45-50 minutes later.

    A lot of Chinese travel back to their parent’s homes or back to home villages. Others stay home and fix meals and have their own special times. At midnight last night when Friday changed to Saturday my phone’s lock screen background changed to a special screen for the Festival. It confused me at first but my Galaxy S5 is a specific version for China (hence my trouble with not having Google Play). We aren’t doing too much for the holiday because tomorrow we are starting our vacation. Hopefully, we will be able to catch some of the river activities where we will be going.

    Festival based in Legend

    Dry Docked Dragon Boat
    This Hong Kong Dragon Boat is docked and ready to go out. (Photo by www.flickr.com/photos/istolethetv/4620371417)

    This festival is called Duanwu in Madarin falls on the fifth day or the fifth lunar month each year. The English name is derived from one of the typical activities of the festival rather than a translation.

    As a friend of mine, a Chinese woman, explained it to me, this holiday has an origin steeped in legend and history. She was not certain about how much of the story is mere legend and how much is based in historical fact. Around one of the periods where states warred with other states, there was a man that loved his country and loved his leader. He was an adviser to the leader of their state; however, other high up officials became jealous of him and made plans. They laid trumped up charges against resulting in his exile. He was forced to wander around the country. As he wondered he began to write epic poetry that is still revered today. Sometime later another state invaded his beloved capitol city. He wrote a final poem lamenting the fate of his country and then jumped into a river.

    Some locals spread the word of his death and immediately took to the water to find his body, because they all loved him despite his exile and despite technically being a traitor to the state. Some people took boats down the river to find him pounding paddles on the water to scare away the fish. Others stood by the shore pounding drums in hopes of scaring the fish and still other threw food such as rice wrapped in leaves as a last ditch effort to distract the fish so they could recover the body.
    Since he died on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month that is when they decided to honor his life and death and ultimately his love and pride in his country.


    Zongzi In Yokohama
    Here is some zongzi being sold in Yokohama, Japan. (Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/hisa)

    To be honest my friend didn’t tell me too much about how people celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival beyond the general sense. In many places there Dragon Boat races that have become a huge part of the holiday, despite It not really being a part of the holiday’s origin. Around the time the holiday really took hold the sport of Dragon boat races were very popular, so somehow the two things were connected through the years. Dragon boats are very long slender boats made of wood that have a dragon head and tail on either end and have intricately carved and painted details along its sides and parts. Of course this event is the name sake for the English name.


    Zongzi filled with sweat red bean paste
    A zongzi filled with red bean paste (usually a little sweet) and wrapped in leaves. (Photo by Allen Timothy Chang, 2011)




    Another special way to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival is by eating rice wrapped in bamboo leaves. You can, of course, see the direct connection to the story. These snacks are called Zongzi. Zongzi can have different fillings, often the chosen filling (ie dried fruit, meat, etc) is mixed in with the rice and then wrapped and tied up. The rice is often glutinous and thus very sticky. Ive eaten some and have liked some while I didn’t like others. I was also told that in the north part of China the zongzi tend to be more sweet while here in the south it tends to be more savory and have things like meats or even sautéed shitake mushrooms.

    There can be a lot more to the holiday and I hope to tell you more later. I know there is a part of the holiday that is supposed to help your health if you partake in it but I do not know any details. Hopefully, I will soon have more to tell you.

    So I hope you all have a wonderful Dragon Boat Festival. If you are around areas that have this festival, please tell me about your experiences by commenting or emailing me; I’d love to hear all about it.

    May the road rise to meet you.

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