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Chinese dragon boat festival
The Epoch Times
7/17/2004 12:31:00 PM

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Chinese dragon boat festival
If you see painted canoes shaped as dragons streaming down the river with rowers racing toward the finish line you know that the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival, a traditional Chinese holiday celebrated all over the world, has begun.
This major Chinese holiday originated in the spring when conditions were ripe for diseases. To protect them from disease, many people hung traditional plants, shot willow trees and wore vanilla.

But it is the boat races that are the primary focal point for celebration as rowers race each other to save poet Chu Yuan. Legend has it that Chu Yuan drowned himself by clasping a stone to his chest and plunging into the Mi Lo River more than 2,000 years ago protesting the corrupt rulers at the time. Townspeople tried to rescue him by beating their drums to scare the fish and throwing dumplings into the sea to keep them from eating Chuís body. Today, people throw bamboo leaves filled with cooked rice into the water as a symbolic gesture to save Chu.

After the races, it is a tradition to throw the miniature silken monkeys, cherries and tigers that are hung around their necks into the river as an offering that good health will follow them throughout the year.

Another tradition during the holiday is the making of the Tzungtzu, a kind of dumpling. After it became known that Chu Yuan was gone, people continued to throw cooked rice into the river for Chu. But a local fisherman was told through a dream that the fish got the rice not Chu so the townspeople started to stuff the rice into bamboo sections, and that eventually evolved into the present-day version of Tzungtzu: rice wrapped in bamboo leafs stuffed with ham, beans, bean paste, sausage and vegetables.

The entertaining cultural event gives observers the opportunity to witness the rich Chinese cultural heritage by watching the inspiring teamwork that transpires as the canoes race to the finish line.

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