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Feast of the Drunken Dragon

Introduction

The “Feast of Drunken Dragon of the Fish Industry” is a unique traditional festive event of the Macao Fresh Fish Traders.  It is also called “Feast of Drunken Dragon and Lion Dance of the Macao Fish Industry” held on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month every year. The tradition originated from the Xiangshan District (now Zhongshan, Zhuhai and Macao) in Guangdong Province hundreds years ago. According to Gazetteer of Xiangshan District (during the Daoguang period), “people pray and bathe Buddha on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month for blessing. The temples are craved with wooden dragon, and villagers have dragon dance together with flags and drums, as a ritual for driving off the pestilence.”

Every year, the residents who work in wholesale and retail of the Macao fish industry  gather at the market in the evening before the Feast. They sit on the floor and have a meal together. The meal, which is literally called “dragon boat longevity rice”, has become a tradition in the industry. During the meal, performers dance with a wooden dragon stung with incenses as a ritual of blessing. The Macao fish industry carries forward this tradition each year, having the fixed festive activity of drunken dragon dance on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month. This tradition has spread over the community as a unique and influential traditional event with the participation of all walks of life.

Dragon Boat Longevity Meal, Procession of the Drunken Dragon, and Gifting Dragon Boat Longevity Rice are the key activities of the Feast, while Drunken Dragon Dance and Lion Dance are the two main performances of the Feast.

The Feast of Drunken Dragon is an embodiment of the spirit of “dragon” in the Chinese nation, which extends the industry’s expectation and best wishes toward the prosperity of our Motherland. The Feast can unite the Chinese nation, and also serves as a great cultural event to unite the whole fish industry.


Origin

There was a legend about the drunken dragon hundreds of years ago. There was an outbreak of pestilence in the Xiangshan District and villagers prayed Buddha for help. While they were carrying the Buddha’s statue, a giant python suddenly leaped out of the river. The python was killed and its blood stained the river. The villagers drank the river water which healed their illness and they recovered from pestilence. It was believed that the python was a divine dragon which saved them. Villagers started the ritual of drunken dragon dance and marked the eighth day of the fourth lunar month to commemorate this event. Every year, people have the worship ritual of praying for peace in order to get rid of disasters.

At the end of the nineteenth century, the repeated wars in China had driven the fore-practitioners in the fish industry to immigrate from Xiangshan to Macao. Together with the Macao practitioners, they inherited the tradition in Macao and the tradition has grown into a festive event that symbolizes togetherness of the industry. After generations of effort, the event of the industry has gradually been expanded into a major local traditional festival with its unique characteristics in Macao. It is also an invaluable Intangible Cultural Heritage that survives over generations.

Feast of the Drunken Dragon

The “Feast of Drunken Dragon of the Fish Industry” is a unique traditional festive event of the Macao Fresh Fish Traders.  It is also called “Feast of Drunken Dragon and Lion Dance of the Macao Fish Industry” held on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month every year. The tradition originated from the Xiangshan District (now Zhongshan, Zhuhai and Macao) in Guangdong Province hundreds years ago. According to Gazetteer of Xiangshan District (during the Daoguang period), “people pray and bathe Buddha on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month for blessing. The temples are craved with wooden dragon, and villagers have dragon dance together with flags and drums, as a ritual for driving off the pestilence.”

Every year, the residents who work in wholesale and retail of the Macao fish industry  gather at the market in the evening before the Feast. They sit on the floor and have a meal together. The meal, which is literally called “dragon boat longevity rice”, has become a tradition in the industry. During the meal, performers dance with a wooden dragon stung with incenses as a ritual of blessing. The Macao fish industry carries forward this tradition each year, having the fixed festive activity of drunken dragon dance on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month. This tradition has spread over the community as a unique and influential traditional event with the participation of all walks of life.

Dragon Boat Longevity Meal, Procession of the Drunken Dragon, and Gifting Dragon Boat Longevity Rice are the key activities of the Feast, while Drunken Dragon Dance and Lion Dance are the two main performances of the Feast.

The Feast of Drunken Dragon is an embodiment of the spirit of “dragon” in the Chinese nation, which extends the industry’s expectation and best wishes toward the prosperity of our Motherland. The Feast can unite the Chinese nation, and also serves as a great cultural event to unite the whole fish industry.