Saturday, June 11, 2005

Qu Yuan Rememberance Day (aka Dragon boat festival)

Every year on 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calender Chinese people eat rice dumplings to remember a poet that died over 2000 years ago.

Today is Dragon Boat Festival. However, the original reason for the festival has nothing to do with dragons or boats. Rather in memorial of the poet Qu Yuan (343-290 B.C.).

Qu Yuan was a highly-respected, trusted advisor to the king until the king became corrupt and banished Qu Yuan. Qu Yuan was so distraught he started writing poems about the corruption of the government. Finally he could no longer take it and threw himself into the Milo River in protest.

Local people had come to love Qu Yuan, and unsuccessfully searched the river for his body. Desperate to prevent the fish from chomping his body, the villages threw in lumps of rice wrapped in bamboo leaves.

Over time these rice dumplings (zhong zi) have evolved and become many different sizes and shapes. Also, now there are a wide range of fillings. One thing that hasn't changed is that they are still wrapped with bamboo leaves.


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