Monday, June 6, 2011

Cultural Calendar Clash

Imagine taking a calendar and a small bottle of old-fashioned “white-out” and erasing every holiday.  And I mean EVERY holiday.  Now, take a red permanent marker and place some random holidays here and there throughout January through December.  You may not put any traditional USA holiday back on the calendar, nor place a holiday in its traditional USA month, eg: Should you choose to put Thanksgiving on your new calendar, it could not be placed in the month of November. 
Well, that about sums up what we are up against here, I’ll deem it Cultural Calendar Clash.

Some of you already live in a country other than the USA so this will just sound like whining, I’m sure, but for us others it’s mind-blogging.  (that’s a new word….did you catch it?)

Last Monday was Memorial Day weekend in the US.   A day set aside to honor veterans and service people who serve and have served our country.  A way to hold their sacrifices high and be grateful.  It marks the beginning of summer. Being female & my age there is even more significance revolving around Memorial Day.  It's our first opportunity to “crack out” those bright white sandals, high heels or straw bags- but just until Labor Day-the first Monday in September.   On that day they MUST  be kicked into the back of your shoe closet for nine months of R&R. 

Dragon Boats

This Monday, China celebrated Dragon Boat Festival Day (Duen Ng.) This occurs on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month.  There were Dragon Boat races on Mochou Lake and we were hosted downtown at Matthew’s apartment, number #202. His balcony overlooks the lake and all its merriment. Matthew is a member of what I call the “Nanjing Normals” – 9 of us who have arrived here within the past 2 months.  We are all “Embracing the New Normal in Nanjing”….together.

It seems that people the world over come up with ALL sorts of reasons to get together and eat. Afterall, sharing a meal & conversation builds relationships. Like holidays everywhere, particular holidays conjure up certain cuisine and Dragon Boat Festival Day does too.  This is the time to celebrate the summer rice planting  , so there is rice-a-plenty.   Some of it is wrapped and steamed in a leaf with some red bean curd. It resembles a three-cornered pyramid and is tied with string.  Unwrap and eat! They are called zongzi (pronounced ZONG-zeh.) Yummy carbohydrates!
The rice "tie-in" doesn't end there. A political figure, Qu Yuan, in 278 BC was unhappy with the way the emperor ruled and protested the decisions made.  He sacrificially put a stone on his back and waded into the water to drown himself.  Legend says that people threw rice into the water to feed the fish so they would leave Qu Yuan’s body alone and beat drums to frighten the fish away and ward off the evil dragon.  Qu Yuan is the hero of the 5th day in the 5th lunar month.

The tradition has evolved into racing colorful boats that depict dragons. Within each boat a drummer, a tiller and crew (who have trained heartily for this event) take their spots and run several heats in the heat.   We cheered them all on with shouts of the Mandarin phrase "Jia Yo!" -which is pretty close to "Let's Go!"  It was quite fun!

Here are some photos of our excursion after a delightful meal at
 Matthew's on Mochou Lake.

Cricket and the Big Guy

Team Yellow on Mochou Lake - Drum Roll, Please!

Experiencing our first Dragon Boat Festival Day with new friends was awesome!   I’ll mark a red circle around next year, the 5th day of the 5th lunar month. A peek at the the 2011 Chinese calendar shows this September 12, as the Mid-Autumn Festival. I  wonder what’s on the menu that day? Tell you what... I won't wear white shoes or carry a white purse since it's after Labor Day in the good old USA; some habits are just way too hard to break...
Thanks for Reading,

Sign says "No Speeling" - Matthew and I couldn't help ourselves!   Don't Miss This Fun!  Jia Yo!


Molly said...


How very interesting. These are things that I would never think about not ever living outside the US. I am enjoy reading your blog and looking at the pictures.

Becca said...

Not quite hot dogs on the grill or flag waving parades, but looks lilke a good time all the same! Getting together with friends and sharing food and fun translates the same in every culture :)

heritage_03 said...

I am really enjoying your blog. Also, I'm glad to hear you are having fun and enjoying your selves.

Matthew said...

Speeling right in front of the sign! That is so asking for trouble!

Rita said...

Sometimes, you just have to let your hair down and speel! Just don't speel while shrilling or skipping :)

Gerry said...

Hey Gordon, Nice blue T-shirt you are wearing.
I may have to borrow your engine lift. and all your other tools. This way they will not feel lonesome

Allison Joy said...

I still want to know what "No Speeling" means. Love the pics! Post more! Post more! XO.