Dragon Boat Festival - Chinese Customs - Chinese Culture Guide - China Circulation Travel Service

Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Festival also known as Double Five festival for it falls annually on the 5 May according to Chinese lunar calendar. As many other traditional Chinese festivals, the Dragon Boat Festival also includes a legend related to the great patriot poet Qu Yuan. The traditional festival dating back 2000years ago is still very popular today. On 20 May 2006, Dragon Boat Festival was approved to be the first batch of State immaterial cultural heritages. In 2008, this festival was stipulated as one of the legal holidays so that the whole country can celebrate it with diverse ways and remember its significance.

People celebrate this festival in order to commemorate Qy Yuan, the great patriotic poet and wise minster of Chu. Qu Yuan was a righteous official and tried his best to serve common people. Since he strongly protested against corruption, he got envy and persecution from other officials who persuaded the emperor to remove him from service. Although he was exiled, he never gave in the evil. During his travel, he taught common people and wrote poets. It was in his exiled period that he wrote the masterpieces Li Sao, Nine Chapters and Wen Tian, Which are the gems of Chinese literature and have great significance for studying ancient Chinese culture.

Have been sawing his mother land decline day by day, he felt very sorrow. One day, on hearing that his country has been defeated by Qin state, he felt despaired and drowned himself by flinging into the Miluo River. On hearing the sad news, fishing men drove their boats to rescue him but could not see him in the Dongting Lake. In order that fish did not eat Qu Yuan’s body, people casted Zongzi to the river to feed the fish. Hence, the traditions of dragon boat race and eating Zongzi are handed down from generation to generation.

Today, dragon boat races are still the main activities to celebrate the festival. The dragon boats are well decorated and with different sizes. The heads of dragon boats are shaped as dragons with opening mouths, however with diverse poses and different color. The sterns are sculpted on dragon squama. This activity is very popular all over China and even overseas Chinese.

Eating Zongzi is an indispensable part during the festival. On that day, every family in China eats Zongzi which are shaped as pyramid. Zongzi is glutinous rice mass with a filling of dates, fruits, sweet potato, eggs, meats and others. In north China, Zongzi is wrapped with corn leaves, while in south China, Zongzi is wrapped with bamboo leaves. Fresh leaves are better for the smell can easily immerge into glutinous rice.

In some places of China, on the festival, there are customs to hang calamus and Chinese mugwort to ward off the evil. Adults drink Xionghuang wine and children carry fragrant pouches, which are believed can prevent evil and bring good luck.


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