Dragon Boat Festival

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 3.45.16 PM A federal holiday in China, the Dragon Boat Festival landed yesterday this year, Saturday, June 20.  The celebration moves every year with the Chinese lunar calendar.

The festival commemorates, supposedly, the suicidal drowning of a Chinese poet a couple of thousand years ago.  And as it goes with most commemorative holidays, they morph over the years into other customs.  People still do things like throwing cooked rice into lakes and streams and racing around in boats painted with dragons, pretending to look for an ancient dead guy and keep him fed (hence the throwing of rice into the water).  Now the day is mostly celebrated with activities and games that promote health and well-being and practices that ward-off evil spirits.  Everyone in the factory where I work was given a box of individually wrapped eggs and sticky rice (a customary gift).

the temporary branch drives out evil, but the red banners are always there, spouting happy new year, good luck and health and other superstitious babble.

the temporary branch by my neighbor’s door drives out evil, but the customary red banners are always there wishing all kinds of  happiness, good luck, health and other superstitious stuff.

I haven’t seen any boat races in the city where I live, but I hear then celebrate them all over, even Washington DC, Boston and Denver in the USA hold dragon boat races in celebration (or excuse to race).

But the big benefit of this holiday, at least in China, is a two-day weekend, unless you work on the factory floor, in which case you simply trade Sunday off for Saturday off.  It takes a holiday here to covet a full weekend that much of the rest of the world takes for granted.

So bring on the Dragon Boats and throw (cooked) rice into the nearest body of water, but only if you have snatched a rare two-day weekend.