Saturday, June 20, 2015

Happy Dragon Boat Festival!

Dragon boat racing. Image source.
Hi everyone, today is Dragon Boat Festival (端午节 duān wǔ jié) in China! This year it falls on June 20, but it's based on the lunar calendar so it's on different days (around the summer solstice) every year.

On this day, we eat 粽子 (zòng zi) and have dragon boat races. Now, what is a 粽子 (zòng zi), you ask? Behold, some pictures:

Image source.
In the above picture, you can see how the 粽子 (zòng zi) have a tetrahedral shape, and they are wrapped in leaves to be steamed or boiled.

Image source.
This picture shows what's inside the 粽子 (zòng zi). Mostly rice, with some meat or maybe red beans or other flavors added.

The legend behind Dragon Boat Festival is as follows (source: wikipedia):
The story best known in modern China holds that the festival commemorates the death of the poet and minister Qu Yuan [屈原 qū yuán](c. 340–278 BC) of the ancient state of Chu during the Warring States period of the Zhou Dynasty. A cadet member 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 even accused of treason. During his exile, Qu Yuan wrote a great deal of poetry. Twenty-eight years later, Qin captured Ying, the Chu capital. In despair, Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River.

It is said that the local people, who admired him, raced out in their boats to save him or at least retrieve his body. This is said to have been the origin of dragon boat races. When his body could not be found, they dropped balls of sticky rice into the river so that the fish would eat them instead of Qu Yuan's body. This is said to be the origin of zongzi.
I didn't race dragon boats or anything today- instead I went to see the new Jurassic World movie (侏罗纪世界 zhū luó jì shì jiè). Because, dragons. I guess?

Here's the cardboard movie ad they had at the theatre.
The movie was in English with Chinese subtitles. It still blows my mind how willing Chinese people are to go see movies in English and then read the subtitles. For Americans, if you have to read a movie, it's not really entertainment, it's more like "let's behold this cultural/historical work of art," right? But American movies are super-popular in China, so, that's the way it is.

My opinion about Jurassic World: Well I wasn't even sure if I wanted to see it or not, because I don't like movies that have violence- and you know this movie is going to have dinosaurs breaking out of their cages and eating people. But I really love dinosaurs, so I figured I should see the movie- if people in mainstream culture are going to be talking about this movie and dinosaurs, I don't want to miss out.

It was an exciting movie, but too violent for me. I liked the parts with the science and genetic research though. And my FAVORITE scene was the part of the theme park where children could ride little triceratops. So cute!!! If they could have just made a movie all about that, I would be totally on board.

And one more photo I took at the movie theatre:

Yeah... 小心地滑 (xiǎo xīn dì huá) should be translated "caution, wet floor" instead of "carefully slide." But whatever.

Anyway, hope you all have a great Dragon Boat Festival! 端午节快乐!

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