Today is 端午节(duān wǔ jié), the Dragon Boat Festival!
Time to race in dragon-shaped boats, eat delicious rice balls, called 粽子 (Zòngzi) filled with various tasty fillings and discover the many other customs associated with this holiday, such as balancing eggs to bring yourself good luck for the coming year!
An ancient festival but a recent official holiday in China
Originally more celebrated in the South of China than in the North, 端午节 became an official Chinese holiday in 2008 (the Chinese therefore now get three days off for this holiday - which they need to make up for on the weekends prior and after the holiday). The Dragon Boat Festival falls every year on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar, which is a different day every year. This year, the Dragon Boat Festival is today, the 12th of June.
Origins of the holiday
The Dragon Boat festival originated over 2,000 years ago and there are many theories about how it all started. While the most popular legend is that of poet 屈原 Qu Yuan (watch his story here in Chinese), there are four main stories explaining how this holiday came to start. Read about them here (bilingual version) and decide which you like best.
Dragon Boat Festival customs and activities
To learn all about the Dragon Boat Festival and its customs, watch this very dramatic video:
Hope you all enjoy celebrating the Dragon Boat festival!
Save us a 粽子!
The Nincha Team
China is preparing to launch its fifth crewed space mission via the Shenzhou-10 mission, launched by a Long March 2F/G rocket. The launch is scheduled for 09:38
Just about an hour from the time this post is made and if everything goes as planned, China will launch its fifth crewed space mission. Like any other nation, the success of China’s space program is point of pride for the Chinese people but I also think that it should also be viewed a point of pride for the world.
Unlike the two original space fairing countries, the USSR/Russia and the US, China is expanding its space program at extremely ambitious rates. Chinese leaders also have an ambitious long term plan for the Chinese space program that eventually involve a solely Chinese space station. In fact, one of the main purposes of the Shenzhou missions have been to explore factors that are needed to construct and maintain a space station. Not only that but with this launch of Shenzhou 10 China will put its second female 宇航员, “yu hang yuan (chinese for astronaut” in space.
With the importance of space exploration and the benefits that it can have on our world being abandoned by many, China continues to push its space program to rival and possibly surpass that of the US and Russians.
Tens of thousands of people participate in a candlelight vigil at Hong Kong’s Victoria Park June 4, 2013, to mark the 24th anniversary of the military crackdown of the pro-democracy movement at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
In this videoânever before released publiclyâMuriel Southerland remembers life in Beijing during the historic events of May and June 1989.
In the midst of military brutality and control, the Tiananmen protests yielded one of the greatest symbolic images of facing down oppression with “tank man”. The inspirational part of “tank man” is its simplicity and how the image epitomizes the Tiananmen movement in all its facets. While this anonymous lone protester may have only halted the line of tanks for a moment before being taken away, it was long enough for this image to become a massive part of modern Chinese history.
Ever since my focus on China shifted towards post 1911 and the rise of the CCP, the Tiananmen Massacre became a recurrence in my reading and study of this period of massive change in China. Like most people the infamous image of “tank man” was in my mind long before I really knew the history and meaning behind it. The more I read, the more Tiananmen intrigued me.
What started as a student movement to air grievances about the deplorable job market for college grads, turned into the largest pro-democracy protest in China to date. Tiananem for me marks the beginning of serious talk about democracy in China. However, I don’t think that it was their Boston Tea Party and to draw a parallel between the democratic movements in China and those that happened in the US is in err. If a democratic movement ever happens in China it will be uniquely Chinese and much like the Tiananmen movement will start with the twenty somethings of China wanting to make their grievances know to the CCP.
For me Tiananmen was never a sign of what could have been. I have never viewed it as a missed opportunity. It has always been a symbol what can happen in China when people genuinely unite behind a common goal. That day military power was used because the leaders of the CCP saw the power behind those protesters. Those leaders saw the steadfast resolve of students that wanted nothing more than a means to voice their opinions in the government that governed their lands. The only way this resolve was damaged was through physical violence that claimed a still unknown number of lives and affected thousands for years to come. The power of that movement is still felt to this day with the level of censorship that is present on the issue. When in China, searches with terms such as “June 4th incident” continue to be blocked completely. If the CCP really had no fear of the ideals that this movement was trying to convey than why after almost 25 years is the Great Firewall of China needed? My conclusion is fear that the seeds those protesters planted may one day sprout in China.
Even though Tiananmen has be thrown into the basket of democratic movements, I think the wants of the current generation that has grown up post Tiananmen is much simpler. Democracy is clearly not a number one goal for this generation but other ideals that the Tiananmen movement embodied are. Netizens have frequently called for greater accountability, better transparency and improved measures to combat corruptions from their political leaders. Rarely is there a call for voting rights or amendments to the current Chinese constitution. Fighting corruption and better accountability can be achieved without democracy and I think China may be the country to test this hypothesis.
However, those students that took to the streets all over China in that summer of ‘89 should not be forgot. They laid the first stones of the road towards a better China and on the anniversary of the violence that took place they should be sources of inspiration for all humans who stand against oppression.
US call to fully account for those killed, detained or missing in 1989 crackdown draws angry response from Beijing.
Just a days before the anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre, the US decides to continue to make Tianamen one of its man battle cries for greater human rights awareness in China. It is a safe assumption that tensions will continue to rise over Tianamen both foreign and domestic as this tragic anniversary gets closer.