Dragon Boat Festival 2006

We’re back, and the pictures are up!

It was a fun day. The festival was like a big fair – carnival games, music and dancing, lots of food, and in the middle of it all, the dragon boat races. In Taiwan the winning team has to climb up on the dragon’s head and snag a flag with their team’s colour at full speed right at the finish line. We didn’t see anyone fall in, but we had the camera ready just in case.

If PEI got big enough we could enter a team, but for now we resigned ourselves to taking goofy pictures with the dragons, eating lots of food, and taking it easy. We attempted stinky dofu again, on a stick this time. It’s an aquired taste (which we have yet to aquire). It was gross, and juicy. And the lady cooking it was wearing a mask, and we don’t blame her! It was a rare cool day, but even with a breeze and cloudy skies we felt sticky all day long from the humidity.

In the photos you’ll see little bird eggs on a stick, spirit money stuffed in the dragon’s mouths on most of the boats, the teams approaching the finish line and their teammate stretching for the flag, and lots of other stuff, including a whole dragon boat team walking and singing on their way to their waiting area, entirely naked save for some (not enough!) spandex.

5 thoughts on “Dragon Boat Festival 2006”

  1. ha ha…jessica, you qualify for the caption “go go speedracer!”

    how does the spirit money relate to the race? and what do they do with it afterward?

  2. There’s apparently a “very important” ceremony in which they paint the eyes on the dragons every year. This is to make the dragons come alive. From a National Taiwan Normal University site:

    Rowing dragon boats began as a ceremony for supplicating the God of Water to prevent disaster and bring fortune and later attached the rural custom of punting on the Milo River in search for Chu Yuan’s body. With the melding of these traditions, dragon boat racing has today become the highlight of all the festivities held on Dragon Boat Festival.

    Before a dragon boat may enter competition, it must first undergo a ceremony to “bring” it “to life.” Local leaders officiate over the ceremony, held on the first day of the fifth lunar month, offering prayer to the Daffodil Noble King and the eyes of the dragon painted on the boat, to bring him. On the fifth day of the month, the boats are carried to the shore amidst the clamor of gongs and drums and a ceremony is held involving incense, prayers, and the lighting of fireworks. Finally, after thorough inspection, the boats enter the water for the competition.

    An idiom associated with the idea, “Draw Dragon Dot Eyes” can be found here, in an animated, children’s version (we use this stuff in the classroom sometime).

  3. (I think) the spirit money is kind of like a lucky rabbits foot in this case. They “feed it” to the dragons, to make their boat faster and more likely to win or something along those lines.

    And you know what? I’m not sure what they do with it after! It could be that the spirit money in there wasn’t even from this year’s race. Maybe it’s a wad that somebody put in there a few years back and never cleaned out. Then again, they might clean it out every year, and different teams replace it every year. I’ll have to ask someone who knows more about it. If I get a good answer, I’ll be sure to pass it on.

    I like my caption, Kelly…thanks! (= I thought it would be fun to pretend I was the dragon…or that I was eating the dragon’s head!!!!(=

  4. Hey guys, growing up in Regina every Sept long weekend there was always a big dragon boat festival/race. But I never knew how it was that the little prairie city all of a sudden had dragons and all kinds of Asian things going on for on weekend a year. I guess now I know. Its also interesting to know the religious roots of the festival. It would be fun to see the real races though. Have fun.

  5. Hey Travis! One major difference, I imagine, is that the people at this festival probably outnumbered the entire population of Regina.

    The races are fun. They have these festivals all over the island – the biggest are in the south. Taipei had more than one. Apparently they were showing footage of some of the flag catchers falling in on the news, but we missed it.

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