Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dragon Boat Festival

Yesterday was the Dragon Boat Festival. The following description of this festival is modified from the San Francisco Chinese Culture Center website.

"The legend of the origin of the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival takes place during the Warring States Period (475 - 221 BC). At the end of the Zhou Dynasty, the area we now know as China had fallen into a state of fragmentation and conflict. While the Zhou dynasty had ruled for several centuries, the state of Qin would eventually emerge the victor and unify all of China under one rule for the first time in history. (See the spectacular movie, Hero, about the Qin emperor by the internationally acclaimed director Zhang Yimou)

One of the ministers to the Zhou Emperor was a wise and articulate man named Qu Yuan. He is also one of China's famous ancient poets. He was loved by the common people. He did much to fight against the rampant corruption that plagued the court-- thereby earning the envy and fear of other officials. Therefore, when he urged the emperor to avoid conflict with the Qin Kingdom, the officials pressured the Emperor to have him removed from service. In exile, he traveled, taught and wrote for several years. Hearing that the Zhou had been defeated by the Qin, he fell into despair and threw himself into the Milou River. His wrote a poem before his death:

Many a heavy sigh I have had in my despair,
Grieving that I was born in such an unlucky time.
I yoked a team of jade dragons to a phoenix chariot,
And waited for the wind to come,
to soar up on my journey.

As he was so loved by the people, fishermen rushed out in long boats, beating drums to scare the fish away, and throwing "zongzi"--sticky rice wrapped in the leaves of reeds-- into the water to feed the fish so that they would not eat Qu Yuan's body.

Starting from that time to this day, people commemorate Qu Yuan through Dragon Boat Races, and eating "zong zi" on the anniversary of his death: the fifth day of the fifth lunar month."

BM found some of the type of reeds used for making zongzi right here in the "wilds" of Connecticut. They harvested a few leaves and we had zongzi to eat in commemoration of the wise and articulate Qu Yuan. The zongzi were filled with sticky rice and plump dried red jujube dates, that I brought all the way from Shanxi.


Blogger Celeste said...

how impressive! and coincidental! i bought some frozen zong-zi last week and had em yesterday. not half bad for frozen, but you're certainly a lucky duck for having REAL ones!

3:54 PM, June 24, 2007  

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