May 25, 2000
Dragon Boat Festival 端午節
Chu Yuan was never able to regain the
emperor's favor and on the fifth day of the fifth moon in the year 295 B.C.(Before Christ), at the age of 37, Chu Yuan clasped a stone
to his chest and plunged into the Milo River(汨羅江) in the Hunan Province(湖南省).
Respecting the minister as an upright
and honest man, the people who lived in the area jumped into their boats and
rushed out in a vain search for him. This unsuccessful rescue attempt is a
part of what the Dragon Boat Festival commemorates(紀念)every year.
Probably the most exciting and
interesting aspect of the festival is the racing of the Dragon Boats. These
races not only symbolize the people's attempt to save Chu Yuan, they also
demonstrate the Chinese virtues of cooperation and teamwork.
Another activity of the Festival is the
making and eating of a kind of dumpling called
Tzungtzu (粽子). When it became known
that Chu Yuan was gone forever, the people, living along the river, threw
cooked rice into the water as a sacrifice(祭品) to their dead hero. They wrapped rice in bamboo leaves(粽葉), and stuffed
it with ham, beans, bean paste(豆沙), salted egg yokes, sausages, nuts, and/or
To the Chinese the fifth lunar moon is
more than just the Dragon Boat Festival. Since antiquity(古代), they have believed that this month is a pestilential and danger-fraught(瘟疫的及充滿危險的) period. Children born in this month are said to
be difficult to raise(撫養),
and people tend to concentrate their efforts during this time attempting to
protect their families from ills and misfortune. The day of the Dragon Boat
Festival is customarily the time when cleaning and sanitation are stressed.
Most families hang calamus(菖蒲)
above their doors, both as a decoration and as a preventive against pestilence.
medicines(民間藥物) such as realgar(雄黃酒)are added to the food eaten on the Festival
day. This is believed to prevent disease and to promote a healthy digestive system(消化器官).
The drinking of realgar in wine supposedly relieves the effects of poisons
accumulated in human bodies.
The sachets (Hsiang Pao in Chinese香包) are very popular with children and they vie
with each other to collect as many as possible. Children are not the only
ones who collect Hsiang Pao. Older people are often given them as a symbol of
respect, and they are highly prized because of the intricate(複雜的) and beautiful embroidery(刺繡) that adorns them.
The Dragon Boat Festival is an
entertaining and enjoyable event. It gives the observer an opportunity to
glimpse a part of the rich Chinese cultural heritage(豐富的中國文化遺產).