teacherfang 2012-03-01 07:44:41
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端午节 [Duān Wǔ Jié]
the Dragon Boat Festival (the 5th day of the 5th lunar month)
The Dragon Boat Festival dates back to the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period. It has a history of more than 2,000 years. There are many legends about this festival. Here we introduce you to just four types:
Qu Yuan 屈原
The Dragon Boat Festival is believed to have originated in ancient China. A number of theories exist about its origins as a number of folk traditions and explanatory myths are connected to its observance. Today the best-known of these relates to the suicide in 278 BC of Qu Yuan, poet and statesman of the Chu kingdom during the Warring States Period.
A descendant of the Chu royal house, Qu served in high offices. However, when the king decided to ally with the increasingly powerful state of Qin, Qu was banished for opposing the alliance and accused of treason. During his exile, Qu Yuan wrote a great deal of poetry, for which he is now remembered. Twenty-eight years later, Qin conquered the capital of Chu. In despair, Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.
It is said that the local people, who admired him, threw food into the river to feed the fish so that they would not eat Qu Yuan's body. This is said to be the origin of zongzi, a food traditionally eaten during the festival. The local people were also said to have paddled out on boats, either to scare the fish away or to retrieve his body. This is said to be the origin of dragon boat racing.
Despite the modern popularity of the Qu Yuan theory, in the former territory of the state of Wu, the festival commemorated Wu Zixu (526 BC – 484 BC). Wu Zixu was a loyal advisor whose advice was ignored by the king to the detriment of the kingdom. Wu Zixu was forced by the king Fuchai to commit suicide, and his body was thrown into the river on the fifth day of the fifth month. After his death, in places such as Suzhou, Wu Zixu is remembered to this day during the Dragon Boat Festival.
The third legend of the Dragon Boat Festival is that it memorializes an Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 23 – 220) girl named Cao'E, whose father had drowned in the river. The 14-year-old Cao'e cried day and night along the river for 17 days, and on May 5th, she finally jumped into the river and held her father's body in her arms. The county governor heard the story and erected a monument to her.
This version holds that the Dragon Boat Festival originated from the totem worship of dragons by the ancient Wu and Yue people. People in the Wu and Yue areas held totem sacrifices on May 5th of the lunar calendar. Boat racing has an especially deep root in the ancient Wu and Yue areas; moreover, there was a custom among people in the region of cutting hair and getting tattoos so as to "look like the son of the dragon."
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