If you're looking to get more indigenous culture out of your Dragon Boat Festival, however, there's a bunch of traditional performances and activities happening at the newly reopened, 101-year-old Great World (Da Shi Jie), a major spot in Shanghai for learning and preserving said indigenous culture.
Hey look! It's... these things!
We’ve gone into a fair amount of depth on the origins of Dragon Boat Festival ("Duanwu Jie") in the past articles in previous years. That centuries-old information is still relevant and all yours at the link. This year, we thought we'd look at some of the tertiary elements of this Festival, with it's bittersweet background story, delicious zongzi, and fascinating, action-packed... stuff you can do.
So yes. Activities. Traditional art and crafts. Family learning and bonding time. You're going to want to be going to Da Shi Jie, AKA "Great World", which yesterday launched a special program for Duanwu, running until June 26. SmSh checked out what they're up to and picked up a bit of history along the way.
Duanwu Jie Arts & Crafts
On the ground floor, a small market composed of several legacy brands are selling their zongzi and other desserts. Visitors can also learn how to wrap rice dumplings from a zongzi lady there, with zong leaves and raw sticky rice. Traditionally, people would use cotton or straw rope to tie them up. There’s also a way of wrapping that involves only using the leaf itself — exemplary of that zero-waste lifestyle that we’ve all been gradually forgetting...
Dragon Boat Festival is essentially a festival for wellbeing, and an essential accessory of Duanwu is the "scented sachet"(xiangnang, 香囊), a fine piece of sateen stuffed with herbs like silvery wormwood, sandalwood powder, and clove. People carry them around or hang them up at home during the festival. Pleasantly aromatic!
The sachets contain common herbs found in traditional Chinese medicine that can help get rid of toxins and illnesses, and repel bugs, which is the same thing as 'warding off evil spirits and bad luck.'
The "five-color bracelet" (wucaisheng, 五彩绳) is a symbol of good luck and longevity. Those colors are associated with the Five Elements in Taoism, completely unrelated to Gay Pride chic, alas. At Great World, guests can make scented sachets and lucky bracelets (which seem to be the same as friendship bracelets) on the second floor, or just purchase them directly from the heritage experts. The workshop for scented sachets is free, but there might be a wait.
Performances & Activities
Yeah. Races last weekend. But If you want to get involved yourself for next year, you could also join the The Shanghaied Dragons team we just wrote about.
In the southern part of China (also in Japan, incidentally), kite flying is another popular activity during Duanwu, undertaken as a metaphor for sending off misfortune. Click on these for listings information on Century and Zhongshan Park, both popular spots for Shanghai kite flyers.
More recently introduced activities that are happening back at the Great World during the weeks of Duanwu include puzzle solving, poem reading, Qu Yuan cosplay, and a toss game with zongzi-shaped sandbags. This place is really big, and there's lots to do with kids, so you can make a day out of it.
Da Shi Jie is hosting a daily rotating schedule of traditional Chinese opera showings, acrobatics, and magic shows that run for about an hour as a part of their intangible cultural heritage program. The schedules are released daily and printed out at the door, to let people know what's on.
Da Shi Jie is open 9am-5pm daily, except on Wednesdays, and they stop letting guests in at 4pm. The nearest metro station is Exit 1, Dashijie station, Line 8, and Exit 2, People Square station, Line 1 and Line 2.