Category Arts & Culture

What is the dragon boat festival?

Dragon Boat Festival

Gongs, drums, and horns urge rowers in racing boats to go faster. The rowers in each boat follow the rhythm of their drummer. As the drums beat faster, the boats skim over the water like racing dragons in honour of a poet who died long ago.

The poet was Qu Yuan. More than 2,000 years ago, Qu Yuan fell into a river. When people saw what had happened, they put their boats into the water and raced to rescue him. But his body was never found. Ever since Qu Yuan disappeared, the Chinese have remembered the race to find him with the Dragon Boat Festival.

The big event of the festival is a colourful boat race. Each boat is painted like a dragon.

Chinese people throughout Asia and in other parts of the world enjoy the Dragon Boat Festival every summer. This celebration comes in the month of the fifth moon on the Chinese calendar – between May 28 and June 28.

Today’s celebrations symbolize the vain attempts of the friends and citizens who raced down the river to save the respected Chu Yuan. There are half a dozen sites in Hong Kong today that participate in the dragon boat races.

A dragon boat is a huge war canoe traditionally made from teak that has a dragon’s head carved into the bow and a dragon’s tail carved at the stern. The boats can range up to 100 feet in length and seat anywhere from 20 to 80 paddlers, varying in size. A sacred ritual is held before the race when the eyes are painted on, which is said to “bring the boat to life.” A drummer who sits mid-boat and keeps the time of the oar strokes on a huge drum accompanies all boats.

The dragon boat races are daylong events. All kinds of organizations from around the globe such as police, fireman, army, embassies, and even local journalists unions, travel to Hong Kong and enter teams for the races.

A gunshot sets the boats off and the beating drums and cymbals from the crowded shores fill the harbors with noise. The races last all day; on the shores of Hong Kong people celebrate with lively song and dance, rooting on their team.

It is believed that the Dragon Boat Festivals repel evil and bring luck in the summer months.

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Which are special days in the Month of June?

The Month of June

June is the sixth month of the year. Some people say that June was named after Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage. Others think that the name came from the Latin word juniores, meaning “young men”. These people say that the Romans held June sacred to young men, just as they held May sacred to the majores, or “older men”.

In the northern half of the world, summer begins on June 20, 21, or 22. In the southern part of the world, this is when winter starts.

Each month is filled with a few important days or events and those days have their own place in the history of the world. Some of the events are celebrated in India whereas others are celebrated around the world with particular themes.  Many celebrations take place in June, especially marriages. So before you enter the sixth month of the year, there are a few interesting things you should know.

June consists of 30 days in total and doesn’t start on the same day of the week — as any other month — but it always ends on the same day of the week as March every year.

Apart from ‘Father’s Day’ and ‘World Environment Day’ there are various national and international events that are celebrated in the month of June. Even the longest day of the year falls in the month of June.

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Why Mother’s Day is celebrated?

Mother’s Day

How do you show your mother that you love her? Do you like to share stories with her? Do you do favors’ for her? Do you like to draw pictures for her?

All over the world, people honour mothers and grandmothers in many ways. But in the U.S.A., Canada, and Australia, a special day is set aside just to honour mothers. It is Mother’s Day, and it falls on the second Sunday in May.

On this special day, some children make cards and gifts for their mothers and grandmothers. Other countries of the world also have special days for mothers. For example, people of Malawi celebrate Mother’s Day on October 17. In Spain, mothers are honoured on December 8.

Celebrations of mothers and motherhood can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele, but the clearest modern precedent for Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday.”

Once a major tradition in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, this celebration fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent and was originally seen as a time when the faithful would return to their “mother church”—the main church in the vicinity of their home—for a special service.

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What is the festival of sacrifice?

The Festival of Sacrifice

Coloured lights line the village streets. Children play all day in their best clothes, and friends exchange gifts. It’s the Festival of Sacrifice. Muslims in Egypt and other countries are celebrating.

The Festival of Sacrifice takes place at different times. But it always happens at the end of the hajj, or annual journey to Mecca. Once in their lifetime, all Muslims are required to make this journey, called a pilgrimage, if they are able.

Mecca is the holiest city of Islam, the religion of the Muslims. It lies in western Saudi Arabia. The city is the birthplace of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.

During the festival, animals are also sacrificed in memory of Abraham, a prophet in the Bible.

The rites of Hajj are performed over five or six days, beginning on the eighth day of this month. Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam and re-enacts events carried out by Prophet Abraham, his wife Hagar and their son Ishmael, and includes a mandatory visit to Arafat, where Prophet Mohammed is said to have delivered his last sermon.

Legend has it that God ordered Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son. Respecting God’s command, but unable to see himself doing as bidden, Abraham blindfolds himself and does the act; or so he thinks. For when he opens his eyes, he finds his son unharmed and a lamb sacrificed instead. Eid al-Adha is celebrated to commemorate this test of faith. God does not want the flesh of the animal but obedience that is to be displayed by following His tenets.

As we enter this wonderful phase of the year where we prepare to celebrate the sacred rituals of our particular faiths, we must never forget the stories behind them and should endeavour to abide by all that is good in our faiths. As has been said, every ritual if ‘performed with imagination and care, enables people to enter a different, timeless dimension’ — most required in these anxious times.

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How do they celebrate Victoria Day?

Victoria Day

On the Monday before May 25, Canadians celebrate the birthdays of two British queens born more than 100 years apart. The first queen was Queen Victoria. She was born on May 24, 1819. British people celebrated her birthday every year. After Queen Victoria’s death, Canadians continued to celebrate her birthday to express their loyalty to the British Empire. The holiday is named in her honour.

The second queen is the current queen of the United Kingdom, Elizabeth II. She was born on April 21, 1926, but Canadians celebrate her birthday on Victoria Day.

Canada celebrates Victoria Day with picnics, parades, outdoor concerts, and fireworks. Many families use the long weekend to go camping, host backyard barbecues, or otherwise get outside. It’s also a popular weekend for sporting events, such as car racing in Clarington, Ontario; the Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon in Halifax, Nova Scotia; and logger sports with ax throwing, log rolling, and tree climbing in Kaslo, British Columbia.

At Upper Canada Village in Morrisburg, Ontario, you can get back to the holiday’s source during a 1860s-style birthday celebration for Queen Victoria, complete with mock military maneuvers, historical speeches, and a sing along of “God Save the Queen.” The authentic 19th century village also stages athletic games from the 1800s and serves birthday cake in the queen’s honor.

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What is May Day/Labour Day?

May Day/Labour Day

With flowers in their hair, children dance around a tall pole. They hold colourful ribbons that stream from the top of the pole. As they dance, they weave the ribbons in and out, covering the pole with bright colours. It’s May Day in England, and the Maypole dance celebrates springtime.

May Day was brought to England by the ancient Romans. In Rome, there was a day in a spring when men paraded through the city, carrying pine tree. There was also a festival to honour Flora, the Roman goddess of springtime.

On May Day in England, a pole was set up on a village green and decorated with flowers and ribbons. Villages then danced around the Maypole.

The first of May is also Labour Day in some countries. This holiday celebrates working people. Many countries have parades and picnics.

On 1 May 1886, the labour unions in the United States decided to go on a strike demanding that workers should not be made to work for more than 8 hours a day. Just three days after the strike began, a blast occurred in Chicago’s Haymarket Square leaving many dead. To honour those workers who died in the blast, the International Socialist Conference declared May 1 as a day designated for labourers.

In India, Labour Day is also celebrated as ‘Antarrashtriya Shramik Diwas’, ‘Uzhaipalar Dinam’ (Tamil) or ‘Kamgar Din’ and its first formal celebration was initiated by the ‘Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan’ in Chennai on May 01 1923. 

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