Think Twice Before Saying “Happy Dragon Boat Festival” in Chinese
Duānwǔ Jie (端午节，Dragon Boat Festival) has long been a traditional festival associated with many customs and superstitions in China. This year’s holiday falls on June 7-9. It is a day to commemorate the life and death in 278 BCE of the famous Chinese poet and scholar Qu Yuan of the Kingdom of Chu. In other stories, it is also a day of remembrance for Wu Zixu in the former territory of Wu State, a loyal advisor who was forced to commit suicide by King Fuchai, with his body thrown into the river. beside eating zongzi (粽子) (glutinous rice wrapped in a leaf), there are other symbols and traditions that you may not know about this holiday.
What to say during Duānwǔ Jié?
Some people think it’s not appropriate to say Duānwǔ jié kuàilè (端午节快乐，Happy Dragon Boat Festival). There are two reasons behind this thought. First, the Dragon Boat Festival is a day of remembrance, worship and sacrifice in history. Also, due to the seasonal change in weather at this time of year, people get sick easily. In ancient times without good medical facilities, people had many activities to dispel evil spirits and avoid sickness on this day. These days it is common to say Duānwǔ jié kuàilèbut there are those who still follow the tradition of “peace and health”, and say Duānwǔ ān kāng (端午安康，”Wishing you peace and health for the Dragon Boat Festival”). So we suggest you think twice before saying Duānwǔ jié kuàilè.
Zongzi (粽子, glutinous rice dumplings stuffed with toppings)
Zòngzi is the most traditional food of the Dragon Boat Festival. It is wrapped in bamboo leaves or reeds and tied with colored thread. Toppings vary from region to region. It is also related to the commemoration of Qu Yuan, as folklore says that people threw zongzi in the river to prevent fish from eating his drowned body.
I like rice balls with meat.
我喜欢肉粽。Wǒ xǐ huān ròu zòng.
Longzhou （龙舟， dragon boats）
Dragon boats are traditionally made of teak wood in various sizes with brightly colored designs. They are usually human-powered boats. You will witness many dragon boat races to the sound of beating drums in China during the dragon boat festival.
Dragon boating is a fun activity.
划龙舟有趣。 Huá Long zhōu yǒu qù.
Xionghuang Jiǔ （雄黄酒，Chinese realgar wine）
Xionghuang jiǔ is made from fermented grain and powdered realgar (an orange-red mineral, arsenic sulfide). In ancient times, people believed to drink it for Duānwǔ jié can help kill insects or drive away evil spirits. Since realgar is poisonous, it’s a tradition you might not want to partake in…
I don’t drink Chinese realgar.
我不喝雄黄酒。Wǒ bù hē Xiónghuáng jiǔ.
Xiangbao （香包，perfume pouches）
At the Dragon Boat Festival, you can usually see children carrying a small bag around their necks or wearing it all day. These small bags are made of colored silk fabric and then filled with perfumes or medicinal plants. According to folklore, they are said to protect children from evil.
Can I have a perfume pouch?
我能要一个香包吗？Wǒnéng yào yí gè xiāngbāo mā?
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Jingkids Internationalin the form of a Mandarin Monday installment.
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Images: Samuel Wong (via Unsplash)