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Monday, June 18, 2018

Dragon Boat Festival a popular event at home and abroad

(China Plus) Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional Chinese festival celebrated on the fifth day of May on the Chinese lunar calendar. This year's Festival falls on June 18.

Dragon Boat Festival was included in the first National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2006, and the World Heritage List in 2009. As Chinese culture has become increasingly popular around the world, so too is the ancient custom of Dragon boat racing.

The Dragon Boat Festival, called Duanwu in Chinese, honors the memory of Qu Yuan, who was an accomplished poet and a minister in the southern state of Chu (in present day Hunan and Hubei provinces) during the Warring States period (475-221 B.C.). The Chu king fell under the influence of ministers who slandered Qu Yuan as "a sting in the flesh", so the king banished his loyal counselor.

After he was banished, the deeply patriotic Qu walked into a river and drowned himself.

To commemorate his memory, local people threw Zongzi, packages of glutinous rice and various fillings wrapped in bamboo leaves, into the river so the fish would eat them instead of his remains.

Today, people in China eat Zongzi during the Festival in memory of Qu Yuan. People also take part in Dragon boat races, and some carry around a little bag full of fragrances that drives away evil spirits and brings fortune and happiness.

China isn't the only country to celebrate Dragon Boat Festival. It's also a part of the cultures of Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and has spread as far as Europe and the U nited States.

1. Dragon Boat Festival in Japan

The Dragon Boat Festival was introduced to Japan from ancient China's Tang Dynasty. The Dragon Boat Festival in Japan had its beginnings as a royal festival celebrated in the Imperial Palace of Japan. During the Edo period, the Dragon Boat Festival began to be celebrated by ordinary citizens.

The Dragon Boat Festival has now also become Children's Day in Japan. During the Festival, people hang Koinobori flags, which represent bravery. Landscapes across Japan are decorated with Koinobori from April to early May, in the hope that children will have a good future and grow up to be healthy and strong. People in Japan also eat Zongzi during Dragon Boat Festival.

2. Dragon Boat Festival in South Korea

The Dragon Boat Festival in South Korea is usually celebrated for about 20 days. Activities including masquerade plays, wr estling, and football matches are held during the festival. At this time of year, Koreans also pray for a good harvest and good health in a tradition dating back about 1,000 years.

3. Dragon Boat Festival in Vietnam

The Dragon Boat Festival is also celebrated in Vietnam. Eating Zongzi is very important for people in Vietnam. Zongzi in Vietnam are square , whereas in China they are in the shape of a triangle. Parents prepare fruits for their children, and make a knot with strings of five different colors that their children wear for good luck. Adults usually drink wine, and wipe some of the wine on children's body to ward off worms. Like the Koreans, Vietnamese believe that eating Zongzi will bring good luck and a good harvest.

4. Dragon Boat Festival in Germany

Dragon boat racing has become a popular activity for many Germans. It was introduced to Germany in 1989,and the first race was held in Hamburg before moving to Frankfurt in 1991. All the boats are provided by the host of the race, and each boat can hold 20 people. During the competition, an atmosphere of friendly competition can be felt on the water.

5. Dragon Boat Festival in USA

America was introduced to Dragon boat racing by the local Chinese community in the 1980s. It has since become one of the most rapidly developing sports in America. More than 400 Dragon boat racing teams have been set up across the country.

6. Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival

The Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival takes place every June on the waters of False Creek in Vancouver, Canada. It is North America's largest and most competitive Dragon boat race, with more than 200 crews from around the world coming together to take part.

The event is part of the legacy of Expo 86 , where Vancouver's Chinese-Canadian community introduced the festival to Canada as part of an outreach program to share Chinese culture with the city's multicultural population.

It has since grown to become one of Vancouver's largest family summer events, attracting participants ranging in age from high school students to 'Grand Dragons' in their 80s.

Source: China Plus by Ding Xiaoxiao

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