The Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival (Duanwu Festival in Chinese) falls on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month in Chinese calendar. As a traditional festival, it has been celebrated for over 2,000 years.

Celebrations of Dragon Boat Festival

The Duanwu Festival was noted for its two important activities, racing dragon boats and eating Zongzi.

Dragon Boat races are the most exciting part of the festival, common at the southern part of China, where has many lakes and rivers. The boat is in shaped of an open - mouth dragon, and brightly painted in red, yellow, white and black. With a length over 40 feet, it can hold dozens of boatmen. During the competition, Boatmen row the boat in cadence with the drumbeats, as the captain standing in the bow of the boat waves a small flag to help coordinate the rowing. The boat racing is very spectacular with drums beating and colorful flags waving, thousands of people cheering for their team to grab the flag at the end of course. This race always takes place in Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and other southern provinces annually.

Zongzi is the traditional food on Dragon Boat Day, a pyramid-shaped (sometimes four-sided with pointed, rounded ends) dumpling made of glutinous rice. It is wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves to give it a special flavor and tied together with string, varied greatly across China. Zongzi in Guangdong is made of sweet-tasting, with pork, walnut, bean and other salty fillings; In Sichuan Province, Zongzi is usually served with a sugar dressing. Most Chinese people still maintain the tradition of eating Zongzi on Duanwu Festival but as to its popularity, Zongzi can be found all the year round in China.

Dragon Boat Festival in China

Other Old Practice

Ancient Chinese believed that the dragon boat day was unlucky as mid summer at the corner and hot weather then bring various disease, so dispelling disease and driving out evil were the main purpose. Children would wear necklaces or bracelets made of read, yellow threads, and hang colorful pouches containing fragrant herbal medicines. Adults would drink some realgar wine which is believed as the most effective to drive away evil spirits and kill insects. Mother would always have the children bath in the water boiled with herbal medicines, which has been proved good things beneficial to health. But these old custom are not commonly observed and only available at rural areas.

Origin & Legend

The origin of Duanwu Festival started in China. There are many stories about the origin of Dragon Boat Day, but the widely accepted version told a sad story about Quyuan at conflicted Warring States (475 BC - 221 BC). He was the prime minister of Chu state at that time, highly esteemed by his wisdom and loyalty that brought peace and prosperity to the kingdom.

He knew the dangers that Qin state posed on its country and advised the King. But most officials were jealous of him and dissuaded the king from taking Qu Yuan's advice and exiled him for 20 years. Qu Yuan was desperate and helpless to watch his country into decline When the capital was stormed by troops from Qin. He wrote "Lisao" or the Lament, a greatest poem in Chinese literature history.

Chinese Dragon Boat festival culture

One the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, he drown himself in the Milo River in great pain, out of the desperation about his country's future. Nearby fishermen rushed over and tried to save him, but they were unable even to recover his body. People of Chu grieved and threw rice into the river to feed his hungry ghost. Zongzi was advised by the spirit of Qu Yuan, to wrap the rice in silk and bind it with five different colored threads as his spirit appeared at the mourners' dream and told the reptile in river stole the rice been offered.

And then Zongzi was offered through years by while the dragon-boat races represented the attempts to rescue and recover the body of Qu Yuan, who is remembered for his love and loyalty to his country and people.

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