Thoughts of a Canadian Exchange Student

Dragon Boat Festival at Xindian (新店的端午節)

Posted in Culture, Food, Home, Observations, Outdoors, Sightseeing, Taipei, Transportation, Weather by J on December 29, 2008

The Dragon Boat Festival at Xindian (新店的端午節) was watched on: June 8, 2008

For the first time in a long time, I went to see dragon boat races during the Dragon Boat Festival, duanwu jie (端午節). And to top it off, I got the chance to see it in Taiwan! The whole atmosphere felt very different from the races put on in Vancouver. In Vancouver, it’s a medium to large sized cultural event that showcases Chinese culture after May’s annual month long “Asian Heritage Month”. However, it’s not quite as festive as the festival in Xindian. As I clearly like Taiwan so much, perhaps I’m projecting a much more favourable image upon the festival in Xindian. But, I really must say that it seems to be celebrated with more people than in Vancouver. (It probably has something to do with the difference in sheer population numbers.)

Also, this was the first time that I remember actually hearing the story of why the Dragon Boat Festival exists. In the past, I thought it was just a time to race in the Dragon Boats. I don’t remember even eating sticky rice, zongzi (粽子), for the occasion. But, in Xindian, I did! However, I really do love the zongzi from home the best.

The story that I heard goes something like this:

A couple hundred years before common era (BCE), Qu Yuan, one of greatest poets in the area now known as China, committed suicide by throwing himself into a river. As the people admired him so much, they paddled out in boats to make noise with drums to scare away the fish and also threw food into the river so that the fish wouldn’t eat his body. Apparently, this is where the tradition of eating zongzi and dragon boating started. The day of his death, the fifth day of the fifth month (lunar calendar), is now remembered as duanwu jie, or the Dragon Boat Festival.

Talk about glory after death. Confucian scholars did well for themselves.

Mmm… Ice cream.

So, on that sweltering day at Xindian where you could almost feel yourself melting with the heat and the amount of people along the waterfront, my friends and I walked along the promenade and looked at the wares the vendors offered. Although the ice cream looked really good, I went with the old standby: sausages. (We went for ice cream went we got back to Taipei.) And even though we weren’t supposed to stop and watch the races from the bridge, as it was uni-directional at different periods of time and you had to wait for your turn to cross to the other side, I managed to snap a shot of a race that was underway. As it was really much too hot to be outside for long, we didn’t stay long in Xindian. Thank goodness for the air conditioning in the MRT (捷運)!

For a more detailed version of the story (and to fill in the parts that I didn’t hear about):
Wikipedia: Folklore Underlying the Dragon Boat Festival

Advertisements

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. […] Photo credits @ lidxplus (main), nj.com, Yah Tour, and Leafgirl04 […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: