Friday, May 29, 2009

Duan Wu Jie (Dragon Boat Festival)

Time for sailing the dragon boats once again, as Duan Wu Jie comes--and goes!

Long suppressed as a national holiday by the government in mainland China, Duan Wu Jie or 'The Dragonboat Festival' was once again restored to national holiday status last year when the government decided to reconsider their approach to national holidays--previously, there had been only 3 major holidays (National Day, Labor Day, and Chinese New Years) which had annually swamped tourist capacity.

Duan Wu Jie (held yesterday) dates back to an ancient Chinese poet/mandarin who was exiled due to political intrigues and later drowned himself when his nation-state was captured by the stronger nation-state of Qin (which went on to form the first major imperial dynasty of a united China, as well as lend its name to the country as "China"). This poet fellow was well regarded by the locals, who searched for his body in the lake where he drowned, and supposedly threw food into the water so that the fish wouldn't chew up the poet's body too badly before it could be recovered. From this we can see the possible origin of a special food item specially prepared by Chinese families for the festival: 'Zongzi', a tetrahedron of sticky rice and sweets or meat wrapped in a tight binding of bamboo leaves and string. If the fish disliked the stuff as much as I do, I doubt it kept them from dining on the revered poet's flesh. The racing of dragonboats could also possibly date back to this desperate search for the poet's corpse.

As for myself, I get a three day weekend which is much appreciated. Later today I will be using Skype's new video-chat capability to chat with New Yorker first graders taught by a friend of a friend.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Blocked, Once Again

It seems the Chinese censors have gotten smarter. Previously they only blocked the 'blogspot' suffix, now they seem to be blocking the 'blogger' site as well. Too bad for them I also have the option of posting blogs via email.