June 20th was the Dragon Boat Festival (aka Duanwu Festival), celebrated by families and festivals all over China every year with delicious food, boat races, and fun times.
According to Jerry, the high school student I was tutoring, the Festival originated many centuries ago. All those many years ago, a greatly beloved leader of China (he said king; another student said it was a famous poet/advisor instead) was forced to watch as the enemies overwhelmed his people. Heart-broken at the loss and devastated by the tragic future his people were facing, he cast himself into the river. The people on the shore saw as he fell into the water and raced out on their dragon-shaped boats to save him. Unfortunately, they could not locate his body, so they threw out special rice cakes as an offering and means of remembering his sacrifice.
To this day, they honor this great leader by hosting dragon boat races and eating Zongzi (Zohng zuh)~ sticky rice balls made of a special type of rice and either fruits or meat- date filled Zongzi are the most popular here in Zhengzhou.
The video below isn’t mine, but it shows what the festival looks like!
Another student says that they also have a tradition with hand-made bracelets – boys wear them on one hand (I think the right); girls wear them on the other. Then on the festival, they thrown them into the river to cast off bad luck. I tried the bracelet thing and ate my Zonzi, so this year should be pretty good! 🙂