Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dragon Boat festival

Today is the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in the Chinese year and is the Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan. It is held in honour of Qu Yuan, a popular Minister in the state of Chu, who lived from 340-278BC, during the Warring States Period. Qu Yuan was a paragon of virtue in the corrupt court of the King of Chu but his downfall came when he advised the King not to go to war with the state of Qin and he was forced into exile. He travelled, taught and wrote for several years and his poetry is famous. Hearing that Chu had been defeated by Qin, he fell into despair and threw himself into the Milou River. His last poem reads:

"Many a heavy sigh I have 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 rice balls into the water to distract the fish from eating Qu Yuan's body.

7 Comments:

Blogger Welshcakes Limoncello said...

How very sad. These days I suppose he would have been treated for depression.

7:39 pm  
OpenID janetwilliams said...

I left a comment 2 days ago, but not sure if it was sent. I'm new to it.
Just to say, as a Chinese teacher, I told my 8 year old boy the story of Quyuan the other day, and he simply told me Quyuan was such a 'stupid person'. Hard to pass on the concept of 'patriotism'. But when I was younger, we seemed to accept it. Or, we simply dared not challenge the teacher regarding this 'great' hero (and others)!

5:40 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Possibly, WL - I wonder how many soon to be ex-MPs will treated for that?

Hi Janet - I didn't get your earlier comment. Maybe the 8 year old will change his opinion later in life?

7:42 am  
OpenID janetwilliams said...

My mixed race son is brought up in an environment where he does not have to stick to one opinion (and he has quite a few opinions). Western kids are very different. They are encouraged to express their opinions and their views are generally respected. In my school days, we were taught only to remember facts and opinions simply did not count. And, we also had to memorise many poems by heart, including Quyuan's.
p/s: I haven't had the glutinous rice balls (which we call zongzi 粽子)for years, as I don't know how to make (or wrap) them in the right shape. There are salty zongzi and sweet zongzi, and I prefer the salty one.

10:53 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Hi Janet - I tried to comment on your blog but it's in Chinese - do you have an English version? I haven't tried zongzi.

8:11 am  
OpenID janetwilliams said...

I am very tempted to reply, 'does Winchesterwhisperer have a Chinese version?"
I have an old website: www.hampshirechinese.co.uk
My English is not good enough to write a blog--always a second language, so I only stick to Chinese. But I wrote about 10 short articles before in English. I'll send them to you to have a look if you are intersted. Please give me your email. Thanks.
p/s: google 'zongzi' and you'll find the pictures. Actually they are not rice 'ball' as they are not round (not like Japanese rice ball). They are very difficult to wrap, in a funny shape, and when I last attempted to do so, all ingredients fell out of the leaves.

4:52 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Good point! My Mandarin is rudimentary and I don't know any characters but I was wondering if there was a handy "view this blog in English" button which you could add to your blog? I'd like to see your articles. If you tell me your e-mail address, I shan't publish it and will e-mail you. Zongzi making sounds a challenge - rather like stuffinng vine leaves.

9:02 am  

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