From the “Double Five” Festival to Pentecost

From the “Double Five” Festival to Pentecost

From the “Double Five” Festival to Pentecost

Written by Elder Henry Luo translated by Gloria Loo 9 June 2024

        The Dragon Boat Festival that falls on the fifth day of the fifth month in the lunar calendar is one of the four great festivals in Chinese tradition. It is also known as the “Double Five” Festival. Every family will wrap rice dumplings, hang up stalks of mugwort and hold dragon boat races in memory of the patriotic poet Qu Yuan. What sort of spirit did he have that he is still fondly remembered by generations of Chinese people over thousands of years?

        “Li Sao” (Sorrow at Parting) is Qu Yuan’s representative work; the focused expression of his spirit. Many passages thereof are well-known and hailed as classics. For example, in vernacular Chinese, one of them says: I sigh deeply as I weep covering my face with my sleeve, lamenting the great suffering of the people. Although I have always been virtuous and kept myself pure and self-disciplined, the advice I submit in the morning is denounced in the evening. They impeach me for carrying holy basil and charge me for picking angelica (holy basil and angelica dahurica are aromatic herbs that symbolise virtue and purity here). This is what my heart aspires towards and sees as good and beautiful. Even if I have to die many deaths, I will not regret it at all.

        “Li Sao” poignantly reveals the ugliness and evil of the Chu Kingdom’s officialdom. It also richly portrays Qu Yuan’s concern for the country and the people, his uncompromising righteousness and unwavering pursuit of his ideals. In this way, he is reminiscent of many Old Testament prophets. They also unflinchingly rebuked Israel’s kings, priests and people for their corruption and were attacked and persecuted by people. The difference is that Qu Yuan eventually killed himself by jumping into a river when he had no way to serve the country. In contrast, the Old Testament prophets were filled with hope to the end regardless of how much persecution they faced, even if they were martyred.

        This is because the revelation they received came not from man, but from God. “Many waters cannot quench” (Song 8:7) their hope. Neither could the power of hell defeat, nor the sting of death harm the Messiah, the Saviour they were looking forward to (1Cor 15:55). They placed their hope in the Word that was with God in the beginning (Jn 1:1). He is Jesus who took on flesh because he had compassion on man who was harassed and helpless (Mar 9:36). He is Jesus who rose from the dead on the third day. His death atoned for all our sins (Jn 1:29). His resurrection blessed all who believe in Him in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph1:3).

        At Pentecost, which was 50 days after Jesus’s resurrection, the disciples received power in the Holy Spirit. They spread to all the world the good news of great joy that can overcome all evil and death. Today, we do not need to jump into a river to seek the truth. The truth has already been revealed to us. If we believe in Him, we will not only have eternal life, but will also enlist in the Gospel army to let every harassed and helpless person in the world hear the mighty Gospel and gain hope and new life.


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