Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional and important festival in China. The 3-day holiday begins on June 9 this year. Do you know something about the festival?
The festival has long been a traditional holiday in China. On May 20th 2006 it was selected into the first batch of National Intangible Cultural Heritage items. In 2008 it was first celebrated as a public holiday in China. And on October 30th 2009 it was added to the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
Dragon Boat Racing
Dragon boat racing is said to originate from the legend of people paddling out on boats to seek the body of patriotic poet Qu Yuan (343–278 BC), who drowned himself in the Miluo River.
Dragon boat racing is the most important activity during the Dragon Boat Festival. The wooden boats are shaped and decorated in the form of a Chinese dragon. The boat size varies by region. Generally it is about 20–35 meters in length and needs 30–60 people to paddle it.
During the races, dragon boat teams paddle harmoniously and hurriedly, accompanied by the sound of beating drums. It is said that the winning team will have good luck and a happy life in the following year.
Dragon boat races are a major sporting event in many places, which competitors train hard for.
During the festival, many activities and customs are practiced by people in China and even in nearby countries. Some of the most traditional ones include dragon boat racing, eating sticky rice dumplings (zongzi), hanging Chinese mugwort and calumus, drinking realgar wine, and wearing perfume pouches.
Eating Sticky Rice Dumplings
Zongzi (粽子zòngzi) is the most traditional Dragon Boat Festival food. It is related to Qu Yuan commemoration, as the legend says that lumps of rice were thrown into the river to stop fish eating his drowned body.
They are a kind of sticky rice dumpling made of glutinous rice filled with meats, beans, and other fillings, wrapped in triangle or rectangle shapes in bamboo or reed leaves, and tied with soaked stalks or colorful silky cords. The flavors of zongzi are usually different from one region to another across China. Read more on Zongzi.
Drinking realgar wine
There is an old saying: 'Drinking realgar wine drives diseases and evils away!' realgar wine is a Chinese alcoholic drink consisting of fermented cereals and powdered regular.
In ancient times, people believed that regular was an antidote for all poisons, and effective for killing insects and driving away evil spirits. So everyone would drink some realgar wine during Duanwu Festival.
Wearing Perfume Pouches
Before Dragon Boat Festival arrives, parents usually prepare perfume pouches for their children. They sew little bags with colorful silk cloth, fill the bags with perfumes or herbal medicines, and then string them with silk threads. During Dragon Boat Festival perfume pouches are hung around kids' necks or tied to the front of a garment as an ornament. The perfume pouches are said to protect them from evil.
Hanging Chinese Mugwort and Calamus
The Dragon Boat Festival is held at the start of summer, when diseases are more prevalent. Mugwort leaves are used medicinally in China. Their fragrance is very pleasant, deterring flies and mosquitoes. Calamus an aquatic plant that has similar effects.
On the fifth day of the fifth month, people usually clean their houses, courtyards, and hang mugwort and calamus on doors lintels to discourage diseases. It is also said hanging mugwort and calamus can bring good luck to the family.