As July 11th approaches, many Shanghai residents are eagerly anticipating the celebration China’s newest holiday: Maritime Day. Given the Chinese penchant for celebrating in style, Maritime Day should prove to be a momentous occasion, as 2005 marks the 600-year anniversary of Zheng He’s (鄭和) nautical expeditions to Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Some even argue Zheng, everyone’s favorite eunuch explorer, might have beaten ol’ Chris Columbus to the New World.
While many countries around the world celebrate the maritime tradition in one way or another, Vice Minister of Communications Xu Zuyuan has chosen a particularly meaningful theme for China’s inaugural celebration: “Love the motherland, be good friends with neighboring countries, and navigate scientifically.” With a concise theme like that, Chinese National Maritime Day can’t go wrong.
For those looking to celebrate in style, Shanghai should offer plenty of opportunities, what with all the beautiful water we are blessed to be surrounded with. Waterskiing on Suzhou Creek? Paragliding along the Huangpu River, complete with views of the historic Bund and Lujiazui Development District? Who can say what memorable activities the government will be sure to dream up for this one?
This July 11th, dust off that bathing suit and get ready to celebrate. Shanghaiist has a cooler full of barley-pops and enough whitening sunscreen to keep us looking our best. Make sure you round up your posse with the appropriate (and free) maritime ecard for the occasion, because this National Maritime Day just may prove to be the Maritime Day to end all Maritime Days.
For more information on Zheng He’s nautical exploits, visit Wikipedia.
Photos courtesy of Zaobao.com and Diamond Water Ski Team.