端午历史

History of Duan Wu

端午节的传说(一) -- 纪念爱国诗人屈原

端午节是古老的传统节日,始于中国的春秋战国时期,至今已有2000多年历史。端午节的由来与传说很多,其中最广为流传的是纪念爱国诗人屈原的故事。

 

据《史记》“屈原贾生列传”记载,屈原,是春秋时期楚怀王的大臣。他倡导举贤授能,富国强兵,力主联齐抗秦,但是他的倡议遭到了贵族的强烈反对。而后,屈原遭奸臣陷害,被革职,赶出都城,流放到沅、湘流域。在流放中,屈原写下了忧国忧民的《离骚》、《天问》、《九歌》等不朽诗篇,也因此成为了流芳千古的伟大爱国诗人。

 

公元前278年,秦军攻破楚国京都。屈原眼看自己的祖国被侵略,心如刀割,但是始终不忍舍弃自己的祖国,于五月五日,在写下了绝笔作《怀沙》之后,抱石投汨罗江,以身殉国。

 

传说屈原死后,楚国百姓哀痛异常,纷纷涌到汨罗江边去凭吊屈原。渔夫们划起船只,在江上来回打捞他的真身。有位渔夫拿出为屈原准备的饭团、鸡蛋等食物,“扑通、扑通”地丢进江里,希望能喂饱江中的鱼龙虾蟹,保全屈大夫的尸首。人们见后纷纷仿效。一位老医师则拿来一坛雄黄酒倒进江里,说是要药晕蛟龙水兽,以免伤害屈大夫。后来为怕饭团为蛟龙所食,人们想出用楝树叶包饭,外缠彩丝,这也就发展成了今日的棕子。

 

此后,在每年的五月初五,就有了龙舟竞渡、吃粽子、喝雄黄酒的风俗,以此来纪念爱国诗人屈原。

端午节的传说(二) -- 纪念孝女曹娥

端午节的第二个传说,是为了纪念东汉时期的为父尽孝的孝女曹娥。

 

相传其父曹盱在五月初五日迎伍神的祭祀活动中不幸溺江,且数日不见尸体。当时年仅十四岁的孝女曹娥,昼夜沿江号哭,寻找父亲尸首,甚至自己也投江寻找父亲。曹娥投江的五日后,她的尸体抱着父亲的尸体浮出了水面。众人震惊,就此传为神话。曹娥的故事传至县府知事,知事大为感动,命人为曹娥立碑,且令其弟子邯郸淳作诔辞颂扬曹娥的一片孝心。

孝女曹娥之墓,在今浙江绍兴,后传曹娥碑为晋王义所书。后人为纪念曹娥的孝节,将她所住的村镇更名为曹娥镇,将其殉父之江定名为曹娥江,并在她投江之处兴建曹娥庙,慰其孝心。

端午节的传说(三) -- 古越民族图腾祭

在新石器时代,有一个崇拜龙的图腾的部族,史称古越族。他们生活于水乡,以龙为部族标志,自比是龙的子孙。他们认为龙是法力最大的神灵,每年的五月初五,会举办盛大的图腾祭祀活动,将各种食物装在竹筒中,或裹在树叶里,往水里扔,献给神龙吃。还会把他们乘坐的船,刻画成龙的形状,配合着岸上的鼓声,在水面上作各种游戏和竞赛划船。

 

直至今日,华夏族的后人仍把把祖先视为龙的化身,也自称“龙的传人”。因此盛大的图腾祭也就演变成了今日的端午节。

Legend 1 - Commemorating Qu Yuan

Duan Wu Festival is a traditional festival with more than 2000 years of history, originating from the period of the Warring States. Many legends surround this ancient tradition, the most popular being the legend of Qu Yuan.

According to historical records, Qu Yuan was a high ranking official of the state of Chu. He believed in harnessing the right talent to enriching the kingdom while strengthening its military, and seeking an alliance with the state of Qi for a combined resistance effort against the state of Qin. Unfortunately, his initiatives were met with strong opposition from other royal courtiers. Eventually, Qu Yuan was exiled from court after being maligned by corrupt officials and banished to the regions of Huai and Xiang. While in exile, Qu Yuan penned many enduring works expressing his love and patriotism for his country and people, such as Li Sao [The Lament], Tian Wen [Questions for Heaven], Jiu Ge [Nine Songs], which earned him the reputation of a patriotic poet.

In 278 BC, the state of Chu was conquered by the Qin army. Upon learning of his country’s plight, Qu Yuan was overcome with despair. After penning his final work Huai Sha [Embracing Sands] on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, Qu Yuan tied himself to a boulder and drowned himself in the Miluo River.

When they heard of Qu Yuan’s death, the people of Chu were filled with sorrow and flocked to Miluo River to mourn his passing. Fishermen paddled their boats out onto the river in attempts to recover his body. One of them threw in rice balls, eggs and other food into the river, hoping that the fish and prawns would eat their fill and not touch Qu Yuan’s body.  Many others quickly followed suit. An old doctor even poured realgar wine into the river, hoping to intoxicate the monsters in the river to prevent them from hurting Qu Yuan. Later on, as the people were worried that the river monsters would eat the rice balls, they began wrapping them in soft leaves and tied them up with colourful string, hence resulting in the Zong Zi [Rice Dumpling] of present day.

From then on, dragon boat racing, eating rice dumplings and drinking realgar wine on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month became traditional customs to commemorate Qu Yuan.

Legend 2 - Commemorating Cao E

Duan Wu Festival’s second legend came about in memory of a filial daughter Cao E.

It was said that her father Cao Xu drowned in the river during a sacrificial ceremony for Wu Shen on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, but his body remained missing for many days. Only fourteen at that time, Cao E walked along the river bank day and night, crying as she searched for his body. In the end, she jumped into the river in a final attempt to find her father. Five days later, her body surfaced, holding her father’s body in her arms. The people were astonished and this miracle soon spread far and wide. The local magistrate came to know of her sacrifice and was so moved that he ordered a plaque to be erected in her name and got his student You Dan Chan to write a speech praising her filial piety.

Cao E’s tomb can be found in Zhejiang, Shaoxing. Her commemorative plaque was later said to be written by King Yi of Jing. To commemorate her filial piety, the town she lived in was renamed Cao E Town, the river she died in was renamed Cao E River and a temple was built at the place she jumped into the river.

Legend 3 - Totem Worship by Gu Yue Tribe

During the Neolithic Ages, there was a Gu Yue tribe, who worshipped dragon totems. Living near the water, they used the dragon as their emblem and deemed themselves to be Descendants of Dragons. Believing that dragons are the most powerful of deities, they held elaborate totem worshipping ceremonies annually on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. They placed all kinds of food into bamboo tubes or wrapped them in tree leaves, and threw them into the water as offerings to the dragon gods. They even carved their boats into shapes of dragons and played games and held competitions on the water to the sound of beating drums on the shore.

Till today, the Han Chinese still regard their ancestors to be incarnations of the dragon and call themselves ‘Descendants of the Dragon’. The elaborate totem worship has since evolved to become today’s Duan Wu festival.

卡其说:端午节

Kaki Says: Duanwu Festival 

Video credits to: 新加坡华族文化中心Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre