Tag Archives: Traditions

端午节/端午節 Duanwu Festival (Dragon Boat Festival)

The Dragon Boat was pink! Sleek, long, bright, and oared by breast cancer survivors and their friends, she flew across P6130101the water in sync to the beat of the drummer who sat at her helm.

She was magnificent.

We were at the annual Dragon Boat Festival, a joint venture between local Chinese organizations and our Families with Children from China (FCC) chapter. As I sat eating my zong zi (Chinese dumpling) and watching my kids and their friends play games in the cool sunlit grass, I thought about the history and folklore behind the second most celebrated and revered Chinese celebration.

The Dragon Boat Festival began as a tradition for driving out evil spirits and disease and helping one to find inner peace. The festival was later enriched by the legend of Qu Yuan, a patriotic poet and a minister to the Zhou Emperor, a deeply loved and respected public servant. The legend says that Qu Yuan threw himself into the Miluo River (Hunan Provence) on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in 278 BC, carrying a large stone and committing ritual suicide to protest a corrupt government. In an effort to save him, people raced out in boats, pounding drums to scare away the fish and water dragons. The tactics didn’t work. Qu Yuan was lost to them. They threw rice into the river to feed him and to keep the fish from eating his body. Nights later the ghost of Qu Yuan appeared to his friends saying that he a river dragon had killed him. He asked them to wrap their rice in a three-cornered silk fabric and throw it into the river to ward off the river dragon. These rice packages eventually became what are known today as zong zi, what I was eating.

P6130110It was a beautiful day; wonderful cultural exposure, good food, and Chinese games and crafts. A lion dance finished off the festival.  – And we all did the 2400 year old tradition proud.

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Xīn Nián Kuài Lè (新年快樂) Happy New Year!


The Lion

The Lion

Gōng Xǐ Fā Cái

 (恭喜發財) Congratulations and Prosperity!

    Chinese New Year has arrived; it lasts for fifteen days. This tradition holds a very special meaning for us since two of our children were born in China. It is an exciting and reflective time in our family. This year we celebrate the second animal to arrive at the Jade Emperor’s party (as Chinese folklore tells it), the serious, patient and hardworking Ox.

   2009 is the year of the Yin Earth Ox. According to the Hsia calendar, this year is symbolized by two elements, the earth sitting on the earth, representing a pure earth time – “Yin Earth”. Because earth and earth are like brothers they do not have a birth or destructive relationship with one another. This bodes well for 2009, these elements express a time for peace, harmony, and healing international relationships.


  What does the Miller family do during Chinese New Year? Well, anyone who knows me knows that I try not to clean; I don’t want to sweep out the good spirits. I also don’t wash my hair during the first three days of the New Year (good fortune might be washed out). The kids have had their hair cuts, symbolizing fresh starts. We decorate the house, being sure to have the couplets, with messages of good fortune, hung by the doors. Long noodles are eaten along with other lucky foods, such as whole fish and mandarin oranges. The kids delight in passing around the hong bao (red envelopes filled with money or chocolate coins). The auspicious color red is worn (it scares away Nian, the monster, too). We make lanterns, visit friends to spread good wishes for the coming year, and attend and have celebrations. The kids’ favorite event is the lion dance. The performance is fun and powerful.


Mark, Josi and Aubry

Mark, Josi and Aubry

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Filed under Cultural Awareness, Family Celebrations, International Adoption, Multicultural Families, Parenting