June 12 – Dragon Boat Festival in China

Posted June 12, 2013

As usual in a holiday, there are special foods to eat: rice dumplings filled with egg, beans, dates, fruits, nuts, meat, or sweet potato. The dumplings are usually steamed.

 Some of the traditional activities include hanging mugwort and calamus (kinds of plants) on the front door, balancing a raw end on its end at noon, wearing perfumed medicine bags, and racing dragon boats. Some people also throw cooked rice into a nearby river.

Another name for the holiday is Poet's Day.

What are the reasons for these various traditions? Well, the mugwort and calamus, the perfumed bags, and balancing eggs are all supposed to ward off bad luck and/or bring good luck. The dragon boats, rice thrown in the river, and reference to poets all have a different origin: the story of “China's first poet, Qu

Qu Yuan was a famous scholar and an advisor to the King of Chu in the third century BCE. Qu was also a poet. Some of the other ministers were jealous of Qu's intellect, and they conspired to make him look bad to the king. Sure enough, the king believed their lies and exiled Qu.

While in exile, Qu wrote many poems that expressed his anger and sorrow. The people of Chu still admired him, so when Qu committed suicide by jumping into a rive with a large stone tied to his chest, many people tried to save him. They went out in their dragon boats, trying to find him and untie the rock—but they did not succeed.

And so every year since then, people go out into the river with their dragon boats in order to remember Qu. They throw rice into the river as a small sacrifice in his honor, and they keep his memory alive with Poet's Day.

Also on this date:

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Check out my Pinterest pages on June holidayshistorical anniversaries in June, and June birthdays.

And here are my Pinterest pages on July holidayshistorical anniversaries in July, and July birthdays.

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