Dragon Boat festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month and is one of the three big insane Chinese holidays that people across Asia celebrate despite their total disdain and disgust for the Red Communist Center of the Universe. It’s kind of like Cinco de Mayo (actually senor… it is Cinco de Mayo) or St. Patrick’s Day when all the world gets drunk on whiskey and tequila and sings Danny Boy or La Bamba and wishes it were Irish or secretly loathes the fact Mexicans are living among us illegally while they strap on a blindfold and bludgeon a Dora the Explorer piñata to death.
(Dude mounting bike on He-An Lu)
Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated by, what a surprise, Dragon Boat Races, hanging calamus and moxa on the front doors of houses, and drinking a rot-gut winey substance called hsiung-huang that repaints the lining of your stomach like nail polish, fetching noon-time water in buckets, and eating magical rice balls called zong-zih.
(Poster Boy for Whipped Asian Men who Carry Purses and their Girlfriend's Umbrellas in the Sun.)
Okay… those are a lot of foreign words… I mean, I had to look some of them up on Chinese Google, which doesn’t exist anymore because of hackers... well, Chinese hackers... but I did find out that “calamus” is also known as the “water sword,”( that’s cool, sort of Arthurian slash Tennyson’s Lady O’ The Lake… or is that Shalott?), and is usually hung above doors to keep away evil… like invading Mongols or Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Moxa is even cooler despite it sounding like a skin cream for pubescent girls.
You see… most Asians are super-superstitious, and many Asians believe moxa can stop sickness, make the body stronger, fill out your taxes, program your DVR, and get you on the Ballot in an Iowa Primary… so they hang it above their doors as well just to keep the good times rolling.
(Taiwanese Beauty Salon... nice laundry, huh? Those are chickens in a cage by the door.)
The noon-time water fetching is… well… honestly I’d say that would piss me off. I mean, if I were a Taiwanese kid and my mom asked me to hike up the local mountainside and stand in line to collect water from some greasy community bath tap, I’d be pretty sore. That’s almost as bad as the traditional game of standing an egg on its top at 12 p.m. sharp so that next year will be lucky.
You ever tried standing an egg up on its top?
You’re better off spending time building a large suspension bridge out of popsicle sticks in your back yard or trying to have an in-depth conversation with a mushroom. They may have told Cool Hand Luke that no man can eat fifty eggs, but trying to stack one of ‘em on its top is pure goose-jerky.
(View out my bedroom window... yeah, thank God for air-conditioning!)
But finally, where would Dragon Boat Festival be without the legend that started it all, the reason people of all ages get into colorful boats and throws leafy balls of rice into rivers so polluted they wouldn’t dare dip a big toe in?
Well… I’ll tell ya. They'd be dead in the water.
Once upon a time back in ancient China, there was a soldier named Qu Yuan, who was wise and heroic and totally suicidal. One time, an enemy from another country invaded (seriously, why don’t more people invade China anyway?) and Qu Yuan fought so well and so bravely that his reward was tickets to the Lady Gaga Born This Way Tour… NO! Instead, in perfect Chinese wisdom, they exiled him to Mongolia. I mean come on, have you been to Mongolia? There is nothing there but yak butter and women who look like the bovine offspring of Snookie from The Jersey Shore.
Qu Yuan didn’t waste his time though. While away he wrote some really syrupy poetical collections like: I’m so happy I think I’m going to hit my head with a hammer, and the classic, Life is so perfect maybe I will drown myself (which he did by the way).
In a genius move, Qu Yuan threw himself into the Miluo River and was eaten by alligators and sharks and hungry island savages with Hong Kong feet (That's an actual Taiwanese expression by the way). Of course, local fisherman tried to stop this by throwing balls of rice called zong-zih, into the water, but that only made Qu Yuan sadder, whose last words were, “Couldn’t you just throw me a rope or an inflatable yellow duck or a copy of Byron? Gurgle. Gurgle. Glug!”
Thus, the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival was born, celebrating this amazing story and teaching children everywhere that if they want to be famous in legends, they need to kill themselves when life is hard. Nice huh? Happy Dragon Boat Day Everybody!