In the 5th day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, it is the traditional Dragon Boat Festival in China, also known as duyang, five and five. As early as the Zhou Dynasty, there was a custom of "storing lanes and bathing in May 5th". But today, many activities of Dragon Boat Festival are related to commemorating Qu Yuan, a great Chinese writer.
In the Warring States period, Chu and Qin scramble for hegemony, and the poet Qu Yuan was highly valued by the king of Chu. However, Qu Yuan's claim was opposed by the old official of Shangguan doctor Jin Shang. He continued to slander Qu Yuan in front of the king of Chu Huai, and the king of Chu Huai gradually alienated Qu Yuan, and the ambitious Qu Yuan felt much pain, and he was with a melancholy and indignation that was difficult to suppress. He wrote the immortal poems such as Li Sao and Tian Xiang. In 229 BC, Qin conquered eight cities in Chu state, and then sent envoys to King Chu Huai to go to the Qin state. Qu Yuan saw through the conspiracy of King Qin and risked death into the palace to state his interests. Instead of listening, Chu Huai Wang drove Qu Yuan out of Ying Du. When King Chu Huai arrived at the meeting as scheduled, he was imprisoned in Qin state. He was filled with regret and depression. He died in Qin after three years. Soon after the king of Chu defeated the king, he sent troops to attack the state of Chu. On the way of exile, Qu Yuan heard the death of King Huai king and the bad news of Ying City to break through.
The fishermen on the river and the people on the shore heard that Dr. Qu Yuan threw himself into the river and came to the river to salvage the corpse of Qu Yuan. (the custom later evolved into a dragon boat race). In addition, the Dragon poured the realgar wine into the river so that the animals could not be hurt. After a long time, a faint dragon was floating on the surface of the water, and the dragon was still covered with a piece of doctor's dress. People pulled the dragon on the shore, pulled out the tendons, then wrapped the dragon in the hands and neck of the children, then used the realgar wine, and some were still writing a "King" on the forehead of the children to make the poison. Snake pests don't dare to hurt them. From then on, at the beginning of May every year in the early May, the people of the state of Chu state the dragon boat on the river, throw the zongzi and drink the male yellow rice wine to commemorate the poet, the custom of the Dragon Boat Festival has been spread like this.
Legend has it that on this evening, Niulang, or the Cowherd, and Zhinu, or the Weaving Maid, meet each other for their annual tryst on a bridge formed by sympathetic magpies over the Milky Way. If it happens to rain that night, a Chinese elder might say it is Zhinu weeping after meeting her husband Niulang on the Milky Way.
This day used to be commemorated as a festival for girls and also for young people in love. As the story goes, there was once a cowherd, Niulang, who lived with his elder brother and sister-in-law. But his sister-in-law disliked and abused him, and the boy was forced to leave home with only an old cow for company.
The cow, however, was a former god who had violated celestial rules and had been sent to earth in bovine form. One day he led Niulang to a lake where fairies came bathe on earth; among them was Zhinu, the most beautiful girl and a skilled seamstress. The two fell in love at first sight and were soon married. They had a son and a daughter, and their happy life was held up as an example for hundreds of years in China.
Yet in the eyes of the Jade Emperor, the Supreme Deity in Taoism, marriage between a mortal and a fairy was strictly forbidden. He sent his empress to fetch Zhinu. Niulang grew desperate when he discovered Zhinu had been taken back to heaven. Driven by Niulangs misery, the cow told him to turn its hide into a pair of shoes after it died.
The magic shoes whisked off Niulang, who carried his two children in baskets strung from a shoulder pole, off on a chase after the empress. The pursuit enraged the empress, who took her hairpin and slashed it across the sky, creating the Milky Way which separated husband from wife. But all was not lost. An army of magpies, moved by their love and devotion, formed a bridge across the Milky Way to reunite the family. Even the Jade Emperoor was touched and allowed Niulang and Zhinu to meet once a year on the seventh night of the seventh month. It is said that at that night, children can hear the private conversation between the Weaving Maid and the Cowherd under the grape trellis. This is how Qixi came to be.
In actuality, the festival can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220). People would traditionally look up at the sky and spot a bright star in the constellation Aquila, as well as the star Vega, identified as Niulang and Zhinu. The two stars shine on opposite sides of the Milky Way.
Qixi is also known as the "Begging for Skills Festival" or "Daughters Festival." In the past, girls would hold ceremonies on the day and pray to Zhinu for wisdom, dexterity and a satisfying marriage. In some parts of Shandong Province, young women would offer fruit and pastries to her in return for a blessing of intelligence. If spiders were seen to weave webs on sacrificial objects, it was believed that Zhinu was offering positive feedback. In other parts of China, the custom was for seven close friends to gather to make dumplings. They would put into three separate dumplings a needle, a copper coin and a red date, which represented perfect needlework skills, good fortune and an early marriage respectively.
Young women in southern China wove small handicrafts with colored paper, grass and thread. Weaving and needlework competitions would be held to see who had the best hands and the brightest mind, prerequisites for being a good wife and mother.
However, these ancient traditions and customs have been slowly dying out. Fewer people than ever gaze at the heaven on that day to pick out the two stars shining bright on either side of the Milky Way -- that is, if they even know on which day Qixi falls.
The Chinese New Year is now popularly known as the SpringFestival because it starts from the Begining of Spring (the first of the twenty-four terms incoodination with the changes of Nature)。 Its origin is too old to be traced. Severalexplanations are hanging around. All agree， however， that the word Nian， which in modernChinese solely means year， was originally the name of a monster beast that started to prey onpeople the night before the beginning of a new year.
One legend goes that the beast Nian had a very big mouth that would swallow a great manypeople with one bite. People were very scared. One day， an old man came to their rescue，offering to subdue Nian. To Nian he said， I hear say that you are very capable， but can youswallow the other beasts of prey on earth instead of people who are by no means of yourworthy opponents? So， it did swallow many of the beasts of prey on earth that alsoharrassed people and their domestic animals from time to time.
After that， the old man disappeared riding the beast Nian. He turned out to be an immortalgod. Now that Nian is gone and other beasts of prey are also scared into forests， peoplebegin to enjoy their peaceful life. Before the old man left， he had told people to put up redpaper decorations on their windows and doors at each year's end to scare away Nian in case itsneaked back again， because red is the color the beast feared the most.
From then on， the tradition of observing the conquest of Nian is carried on from generation togeneration. The term Guo Nian， which may mean Survive the Nian becomes today Celebratethe (New) Year as the word guo in Chinese having both the meaning of pass-over andobserve. The custom of putting up red paper and firing fire-crackers to scare away Nian shouldit have a chance to run loose is still around. However， people today have long forgotten whythey are doing all this， except that they feel the color and the sound add to the excitement ofthe celebration.