Monthly Archives: June 2012

Dragon Boat Festival

The ancient cultural holiday of the Dragon Boat Festival occurs on the 5th day of the 5th Chinese lunar month.  For the western calendar, this fell on June 23rd this year and Friday was a holiday – a lovely long weekend.  As legend has it, the festival began when a famous exiled poet named Qu Yuan, drowned himself in a river in 277 B.C.   Local people did not want to see Qu’s body eaten by the fish so they started throwing food, such as Zongzi, into the river, and some fisherman began racing their boats out to save him.    Chinese citizens now throw bamboo leaves filled with cooked rice into the water.  Therefore the fish could eat the rice rather than their hero poet.  Over the years this has turned into the custom of eating tzungtzu and rice dumplings.  The tradition has continued year after year to honor Qu Yuan, and the constant beat of the drums, and paddles splashing into the water, are sounds that have marked this time of year in China for centuries.  The Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated by boat races in the shape of dragons.  Competing teams row their boats forward to a drumbeat racing to reach the finish end first. 

 The celebration is a time for protection from evil and disease for the rest of the year.  It is done so by different practices such as hanging healthy herbs on the front door, drinking nutritious concoctions, and displaying portraits of evil’s nemesis, Chung Kuei.  If one manages to stand an egg on it’s end at exactly 12:00 noon, the following year will be a lucky one.

Dragon Boat Festival in Shanghai

Dragon Boat Festival in Shanghai

Century Park Day Out

Century Park is the largest park in Shanghai, covering 140 hectares with large areas of greens, trees and lakes.  There are multiple childrens’s play areas, picnic and fishing areas.  It is a blend of East and West, with the park’s landscaping combining British, Japanese, and Chinese gardening styles.   The only down side is that dogs are not allowed.  We spent a lovely day in the sunshine at this park. 

The Entrance to Century Park

The Entrance to Century Park

We rented a bicycle and rode around the entire park:

Bicycle made for 4!

Bicycle made for 4, yet there were only 2 of us pedalling!

I say we, but it was just Owen and I doing the pedalling with the kids telling us to go faster!  It was a great way to see the park and we were able to decide where to go back to.    The kids wanted to ride in a boat, ride the horses and eat ice cream so that is exactly what we did.

Both of the children attract attention from the locals because of their fair hair.  Oliver also has a double crown which is considered incredibly lucky in China so lots of people want to touch him because of that.  As you can imagine, neither of them are very fond of this, and my protective mother hen instinct also kicks up a notch.  We did not let this spoil our day – we smiled nicely and kept on walking.

By the Big Lake in Century Park

By the Big Lake in Century Park

One of the bridges over one of the lakes

Riding the horses!

Isabelle and Oliver attempting to ride the bike themselves

A boat ride.  (Oliver took this picture!)

Still on the boat.  Isabelle took this picture.