When Is the Dragon Boat Festival in China? This festival is a traditional event that is celebrated in China on the fifth day of the fifth month according to the Chinese calendar. Using the Gregorian calendar, the dates may vary every year since unlike it, the Chinese calendar is lunisolar. It’s considered a public holiday, so schools and offices are closed.
The name “Dragon Boat Festival” is the English translated name of the festival, and its other name is “Double Fifth Festival”. In Mandarin Chinese, the festival is called Duanwu, which loosely translates to “first horse”. In some cases, it’s said to translate to the number five meaning it’s the festival on the fifth day of the fifth month. In the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, the festival is known as “Tuan Wu chieh”. In Hong Kong, Singapore, Macao, and Malaysia it is referred to as “Tuen Ng Jit”
history of dragon boat festival in china:The Dragon boat festival is surrounded by very many superstitions that led to why people celebrate it. For most people, the celebration is in commemoration of Qu Yuan. He was a famous scholar and loyal minister to the King of Chu in the third century BCE. Aggravated by his wisdom and intelligence, the other court officials falsely accused Qu, leading to his exile. It was said he wrote many poems to express his anger and sorrow, before strapping on a rock to his chest and drowning himself in the Miluo River. The local people of the Chu, who believed he was an honorable man, went on their boats in search of him in the river. Unable to find him, they began the tradition of the Dragon Boat Festival to commemorate the attempt of saving him every year. During this time the locals would throw rice dumplings into the river as a sacrifice to Qu Yuan’s spirit and also as a way of keeping the fish and evil spirits away from his body.
Another common belief behind why people celebrate this festival is that it was a commemoration to Wu Zixu instead. Wu Zixu died when King Fuchai of Wu forced him to commit. This was after he warned him against Xi Shi, a beautiful woman Fuachi loved dearly. Xi Shi was sent by King Goujian of Yue, which was why Wu Zixu was weary having understood Goujian’s plot. Wu Zixu’s body was thrown in the river on the fifth day of the fifth month, and since then places like Suzhou commemorate him during the Dragon Boat Festival.
In places like Ningbo and Zhoushan, they celebrate the festival to commemorate a girl called Cao E. Cao E was said to have drowned in the river in filial piety act to search for her father Cao Xu, who had accidentally drowned in the same river. It is said that she searched for him for three days. The locals found both her father’s and her body in the river after five days. In the following years, a temple was built in her honor in Shangyu and the Shun river was renamed Cao’e river.
Another common old superstition that is attached to the festival, is the idea that the fifth of the fifth month was a bad day of bad luck. On this day it was believed that poisonous animals would appear and people would easily fall ill. To avoid bad luck, during the festival, people would hang calamus and wormwood on their doors to ward off illness and evil spirits. They would also stick pictures of the five most poisonous creatures and pin them with needles. Some would make paper cuttings of the creatures and tie them on their children’s wrists, to get rid of bad luck and diseases.
Some believed that the festival was a way of worshipping the dragon lord. In this case, the throwing of rice in water was seen as a sacrificial offering. The boat races symbolized the yang energy associated with the dragon lord.
There are therefore varied reasons why people celebrate the festival. It depends on the area in different areas, although the majority are said to do it in commemoration of Qu Yuan’s death.
What Is the Dragon Boat Festival in China?
The Dragon boat festival is an annual event that happens in various parts of China, popularly in Hong Kong. The event happens every fifth day of the fifth month according to the Chinese calendar. It is considered a public holiday in China.
The common reason behind celebrating the event is to commemorate the death of Qu Yuan, a former minister in the third century and a Chinese poet. He is considered a national hero and is celebrated for his patriotism and great contribution to classical poetry. In some places, however, the reason for celebrating the festival may differ.
Today, the festivals involve Dragon boat races in which thousands of competitors take part in. The canoes used are shaped like Chinese dragons and painted in vibrant war colors. Each team is expected to steer the boat while one member beats a drum to keep up the morale and pace. The first team to win is considered to be lucky throughout the remaining year.
Other practices associated with the festival include the wearing of incense bags, believed to protect the wearer from bad luck, illness, and evil spirits. There is also the hanging of calamus and wormwood on the doors and windows, also believed to ward off evil spirits and poisonous creatures as well as, bring good fortune and health. You will also get to enjoy some of China’s special cuisine that’s associated with the festival, like Zongzi, fried cake, and thin pancakes.
How Long Does the Dragon Boat Festival Last?
The Dragon boat festival is one of the most important festivals in China aside from the Mid-Autumn Festival and Spring Festival. It is a public holiday that lasts for three days.
During the three days, you can take part or watch the dragon boat race which is the main event of the festival. You could also indulge in the delicious cuisine associated with the festival. There are also certain practices you can take part in like wearing an incense pouch for good luck.
Since it’s a three-day long holiday, a lot of the Chinese may take this time to travel. You may therefore find a lot of tourist sites parked, hotels fully booked or air tickets sold out. So, if you’re planning on attending the festival, the key is to plan and book everything early enough.
What Countries Celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival?
The three-day dragon boat festival is originally a Chinese traditional event and among the three most important festivals. It’s celebrated across the country with varying activities although the most common ones are eating Zongzi and holding dragon boat races. Due to immigration, this festival was introduced in places like the US, Europe, Canada, Germany, and Singapore. These places celebrate the festival in the same way as China, through dragon boat races and special cuisine.
Japan also celebrates the Dragon boat festival ever since the Heian period (794-1185). It was originally known as Tango no Sekku and was celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month. Today it’s called the Children’s day, every May 5 where they eat special food resembling Zongzi, called Kashiwa-mochi. To them, the festival is celebrated to wish that their children grow healthy and strong. Instead of hanging calamus, they drink calamus wine and instead hang “koinobori” (carp-shaped windsocks), that blow in the wind as a sign of hope.
South Korea also celebrates this festival, although to them it’s called the Gangneung Danoje Festival. Unlike in China, the festival lasts for 20 days in South Korea, culminating on the fifth day of the fifth month. That is when the Dano falls. The celebration is characterized by activities like the throwing of pots to help pray for happiness, good harvest, and health.
What Food Is Eaten on the Dragon Boat Festival?
As mentioned, the dragon boat festival is associated with various special Chinese cuisine. Some of the food like the Zongzi has a strong association with the meaning behind the festival and why it is celebrated. The following is a list of all the foods associated with the dragon boat festival:
This is the main food associated with the Dragon boat festival. It is a rice dumpling made with sticky rice and wrapped in bamboo leaves. It dates back to the 3rd century when people would throw Zongziinto the river during the festival. It was to feed the fish so they would not eat Qu Yuan’s body.
It’s a type of cake made from sticky rice and mugwort, then dipped in sugar or honey. It’s a popular local dragon boat festival cuisine among the Yanbian in Jilin Province, China.
It’s a type of fried ball (or cake) made either with sticky rice flour or wheat flour with sesame seeds on top. It’s believed that eating Jiandui can stop the rain. According to folklore, the rainy season that happens before the festival is due to the holes in heaven. The jiandui balls being glutinous can fill up these holes and stop the rain. The Fujian province is known to eat Jiandui during the festival.
This food(tea egg) is prepared by boiling eggs in tea. In Jiangxi province, they use chicken eggs. In other areas, they use goose or duck eggs. After fully cooking the egg, some paint the shells in red, put them in a net bag, and hang them around their children’s neck. It’s believed that doing this will help to ward off bad luck.
The most tender and nutritious food associated with the festival is the eel cooked with tofu and mushrooms and served in a rice field. It is an important food during the festival in the southern parts of China.
These are boiled eggs with garlic that are eaten for breakfast during the festival. It’s believed that the garlic in the eggs wards off evil spirits and bad luck.
This is a popular drink that has been had during the dragon boat festival for many generations. Children’s cheeks and foreheads are also rubbed with the wine. This is done to get rid of illness, evil spirits, and bad fortune. Not a lot of people, however, like the wine.
These thin pancakes are filled with fillings like fried eggs, meat, mushrooms, and Chinese chives. It’s a common delicacy in Wenzhou during the festivals.
The Dragon Boat Festival is an important event in China that dates far back. People come from far and wide to participate. They indulge in the cuisine and traditions as well as watch the infamous dragon boat race. Many other countries including the US also celebrate the festival today.
what is the dragon boat festival called in chinese?
The Dragon Boat Festival, known as “Duanwu Jie” in Chinese, is not exclusively celebrated by the Han ethnic group in China. There are 26 ethnic minorities in China that also observe the Dragon Boat Festival. Each ethnic group, and even within the same ethnic group in different regions, may have different names for this festival. In total, there are nearly 30 different names for the festival, with each name being associated with local culture, folk legends, and historical events.
Some of the alternative names for the Dragon Boat Festival include “Duanwu Jie,” “Duanwu Festival,” “Chongwu Jie,” “Chongwu Festival,” “Tianzhong Jie,” “Xia Jie,” “Wuyue Jie,” “Ju Jie,” “Pu Jie,” “Longzhou Jie,” “Yulan Jie,” “Zongzi Festival,” “Wu Ri Jie,” “Nü’er Jie,” “Di La Jie,” “Shiren Jie,” “Long Ri,” “Wu Ri Deng Jie,” “You Ai Jie,” “Changpu Jie,” “Tianyi Jie,” “Caoyao Jie,” “Qu Yuan Ri,” “Jie Zong Jie,” and many more. It is the Chinese festival with the most diverse range of names. Among all traditional Chinese festivals, the Dragon Boat Festival has the most variations in names, making it truly unique.
As an important traditional festival, the modern-day association with the Dragon Boat Festival is primarily focused on eating “zongzi,” a traditional sticky rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves. Young people enthusiastically debate whether zongzi should be sweet or savory.
In the past, besides eating zongzi, the main activities during the Dragon Boat Festival included watching dragon boat races and using medicinal herbs to bathe children, aiming to prevent and treat skin diseases.
While many people have a deeper understanding of the festival, often associating it with the commemoration of Qu Yuan, the reality is that the festival is more complex. The ancient customs and taboos related to the Dragon Boat Festival are documented in the “Monthly Compendium of Customs.” Translating all the details into English would be extensive, but it covers various aspects of the festival’s traditions and beliefs.
In the past, the Dragon Boat Festival, or “Duanwu,” was a festival with rich cultural significance. The activities associated with the festival included rituals for averting disasters and curing illnesses, folk entertainment, dragon boat racing, herb gathering, rain prayers, and even sword making and talisman crafting.
Additionally, there was a folk tradition among people who raised parrots. On the fifth day of the fifth month, they would trim the tongues of the parrots and teach them to speak.
The Dragon Boat Festival is also celebrated by 26 ethnic minorities, including the Naxi, Pumi, Yi, Buyi, Dong, Dai, Bai, Tujia, and Miao ethnic groups. Each ethnic group and region have their own specific objects of worship and unique festival activities.
Consequently, the festival is known by different names. In the central plains of China, the Dragon Boat Festival was originally called “E Ri”, meaning “Evil Day.” This was because ancient people believed that children born on this day would bring misfortune to their parents. Meng Changjun, who was born on this day, was initially abandoned by his parents.
During the period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties, the legend of Qu Yuan’s suicide became associated with the Dragon Boat Festival. In his works, Qu Yuan mentioned bathing with aromatic plants, leading to the inclusion of the term “Mulan Festival” (沐兰节) in the “Record of Seasonal Customs in Jingchu” .
On this day, people would gather herbs to dispel diseases and ward off evil spirits.
Another name for the Dragon Boat Festival is “Xiazhi Festival” because it is close to the summer solstice (Xiazhi). Some customs associated with the summer solstice are also intertwined with the festival. During the Song Dynasty, there were still some places where zongzi was traditionally eaten on the summer solstice.
During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the Dragon Boat Festival was also known as the “Daughter’s Festival” in some areas. According to historical records from the Ming Dynasty, on the Daughter’s Festival in May, people would tie silk threads and wear mugwort and Five Poisons talismans. Married women would return to their parents’ home.
In the Sichuan and Chongqing regions, the Dragon Boat Festival is referred to as “Duanyang Festival” . It is said that this is because the date of the festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth month, and the number “five” is considered a yang number in the Book of Changes (I Ching).
Of course, the Dragon Boat Festival has even more alternative names than those mentioned above, including Longzhou Festival, Chongwu Festival, Duanwu Festival, Chongwu Festival, Dangwu Xun, Tianzhong Festival, Ai Festival, Shangri Festival, May Festival, and Changpu Festival.
There are also Tianyi Festival, Herbal Medicine Festival, Wu Ri Festival, Di La Festival, Zhengyang Festival, Long Ri Festival, Zongzi Festival, Wuhuang Festival, Poet’s Festival, Avoid Noon Festival, Zie Zong Festival, Duanli Festival, May 5th, and Noon on May 5th.
Dragon Boat Festival has various names and terms associated with it:
Dragon Boat Festival: Referring to the festival’s main activity of dragon boat racing, which is popular in southern China, particularly in Guangdong province.
Duanwu Festival: “Duan” means “beginning” or “start,” and “wu” refers to the fifth day of the lunar month, so Duanwu Festival is also known as “Fifth Month Festival” or “Double Fifth Festival.”
Duan Yang Festival: According to the Jingchu Suishi Ji (Seasonal Records of Jingchu), it is called Duan Yang Festival because the first “wu” day of May is associated with ascending heights and favorable weather, symbolizing the sun reaching its zenith.
Chongwu Festival: “Chong” means “repeat” or “double,” and “wu” refers to the fifth day of the lunar month. Therefore, Chongwu Festival or Chongwu Jie is another name for the Dragon Boat Festival.
Longzhou Festival: Longzhou refers to dragon boat racing. It is an important activity during the Dragon Boat Festival, particularly in Guangdong and other southern regions. The term “Pa Longchuan” is used in Guangdong to refer to dragon boat races.
Dang Wu Xun: In some rural areas of Shanghai, particularly in regions along the northern shore of Hangzhou Bay like Fengxian and Nanhui, the Dragon Boat Festival is referred to as “Dang Wu Xun.”
Tianzhong Festival: This name is derived from the principles of Yin and Yang. During the Dragon Boat Festival, the sun is at its highest point, symbolized by the “wu” day, which corresponds to the zenith. Hence, it is called Tianzhong Festival.
Yulan Festival: During the Dragon Boat Festival, it is midsummer, and skin diseases are common. In ancient times, people bathed with yulan leaves to cleanse themselves. The Han Dynasty’s “Dai Li” mentions bathing with yulan on the noon of the festival.
Jie Zong Festival: Jie Zong Festival refers to the tradition of competing to see who can unwrap the longest zongzi (sticky rice dumpling). This term is associated with the act of unwrapping or “jie” the zongzi.
Daughter’s Festival: According to Ming Dynasty records, during the fifth month, which includes the Dragon Boat Festival, people would adorn young girls with silk cords, wear mugwort and five poisonous creature charms. Married women would return to their parents’ home. Therefore, it was called Daughter’s Festival.
Duan Li Festival: In southern Hunan, on the fifth day of May, people hang mugwort on their doors and use it to bathe as a ritual to protect against malaria. This is known as Duan Li Festival.
Changpu Festival: The Dragon Boat Festival is not only a festival for ancestral worship but also a time for “expelling diseases and preventing epidemics.” The tradition of hanging changpu (sweet flag) and mugwort leaves on doors is believed to drive away evil spirits, leading to the festival being called Changpu Festival.
Why is it called Dragon Boat Festival?
In ancient China, people used a system called the “Ten Heavenly Stems and Twelve Earthly Branches” for chronology. According to the order of the Earthly Branches, the first month of the lunar calendar is called the “Yin Month” (寅月). Following the sequence of the Earthly Branches (“Zi Chou Yin Mao Chen Si Wu Wei Shen You Xu Hai”), the fifth month is the “Wu Month” (午月), and the time period associated with Wu is the “Yang Hour” (阳辰). Hence, the Dragon Boat Festival is also known as the “Duan Yang Festival” (端阳). The character “午” (Wu) was commonly associated with the number five, so the Dragon Boat Festival is also referred to as “Duan Wu” (端午), which has the same meaning as “Duan Yang.” Additionally, since the date of the festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, it is also called the “Chong Wu Festival” (重五节) or “Chong Wu Festival” (重午节), meaning the “Double Fifth Festival” or the “Double Wu Festival.”
The Dragon Boat Festival is called so because one of its prominent traditions is the dragon boat races that take place during the festival. The dragon boat races involve long narrow boats decorated like dragons, with a dragon head at the front and a dragon tail at the back. These boats are propelled forward by a team of rowers, usually to the beat of a drum.
The name “Dragon Boat Festival” is derived from the association of the festival with these dragon boat races. The boats themselves symbolize the traditional Chinese dragon, which is considered a powerful and auspicious creature in Chinese culture. The festival also commemorates the legendary poet Qu Yuan, who drowned himself in a river, and the dragon boats were used to search for his body and scare away evil spirits. Over time, the dragon boat races became an integral part of the festival and contributed to its name.
dragon boat festival history and legends
The exact origin of the Dragon Boat Festival is uncertain, but it is believed to have a history of approximately 5,000 to 7,000 years, as of 2020. In his essay “Duan Wu Examination,” Mr. Wen Yiduo argued that the earliest form of the Dragon Boat Festival, featuring dragon boat races, originated in the pre-Warring States period in the regions of Jiangsu and Zhejiang, among the Wu and Yue ethnic groups. The dragon was already a totem of the Wu and Yue peoples, and according to Wen Yiduo, this dragon totem later evolved into a national symbol. It was during the ceremony of dragon worship that the tradition of dragon boat racing gradually emerged.
The earliest known depiction of “dragon boat racing” in China, recognized by experts, was found in Jiacun village, Yulong town, Yinzhou District, Ningbo City, Zhejiang Province. Prehistoric cultural artifacts found in Hemudu and Tianluoshan sites indicate the existence of single-log boats and wooden paddles dating back 5,000 to 7,000 years. The original form of the dragon boat was a single-log boat with a carved dragon shape, which later evolved into a wooden boat shaped like a dragon.
The six historical stories associated with the Dragon Boat Festival are:
Jie Zitui (dates unknown, around 636 BC):
Jie Zitui was a loyal companion of Prince Chong’er of Jin. They were exiled for 19 years, during which Jie Zitui even cut a piece of flesh from his thigh to feed Prince Chong’er. After Prince Chong’er returned to his kingdom and became the ruler, he forgot to reward Jie Zitui. Feeling resentful, Jie Zitui wrote a song called “Song of the Dragon and Snake” expressing his feelings towards Prince Chong’er and hid in the mountains with his mother. Prince Chong’er called him multiple times, but Jie Zitui refused to come down. In an attempt to force him out, Prince Chong’er set fire to the mountains, which tragically led to the death of Jie Zitui and his mother. In honor of Jie Zitui, it was decreed that on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, no fires should be lit, and only cold food should be consumed. Zongzi, a type of sticky rice dumpling, is one of the traditional foods eaten during this festival.
Qu Yuan (approximately 340-278 BC):
Qu Yuan was a poet and statesman of the Chu kingdom during the Warring States period. He advocated for reforms to strengthen Chu but was exiled and accused of treason by corrupt officials. Devastated by the fall of Chu to the Qin state, Qu Yuan drowned himself in the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. The local people raced in their boats to try to save him but were unsuccessful. To prevent fish and evil spirits from devouring Qu Yuan’s body, they threw rice dumplings, now known as zongzi, into the river. The Dragon Boat Festival is believed to have originated from the activities carried out to commemorate Qu Yuan.
Wu Zixu (559-484 BC):
Wu Zixu was a statesman from the State of Chu. After his family was massacred by the king of Chu, Wu Zixu fled to the State of Wu. There, he became friends with Sun Wu (Sun Tzu), and together they nearly succeeded in destroying the Chu kingdom, even desecrating the corpse of King Ping of Chu. When the King of Wu died, his successor, King Fuchai, made peace with the defeated State of Yue against Wu Zixu’s advice. The State of Yue later used deceit and bribery to turn King Fuchai against Wu Zixu, leading to Wu Zixu’s execution. Before his death, Wu Zixu expressed his wish for his eyes to be gouged out and placed on the eastern gate of the capital city to witness the destruction of Wu by the State of Yue. Out of respect for Wu Zixu, the Dragon Boat Festival is also associated with his memory.
Gou Jian (approximately 520-465 BC):
Gou Jian, the King of Yue, was a historical figure during the Spring and Autumn period. After suffering defeat at the hands of the State of Wu, Gou Jian endured humiliation and hardship, eventually recovering his strength under the guidance of his advisor, Fan Li. He later led Yue to victory over Wu, seeking revenge for his previous defeat. During the process of rebuilding his strength, Gou Jian employed the training of his naval forces through dragon boat races, aiming to hide his true intentions from the State of Wu. The dragon boat races held during the Dragon Boat Festival are believed to have originated from Gou Jian’s training methods, and therefore, the festival is associated with his memory.
Cao E (130-143 AD):
Cao E was a filial daughter from Shangyu in the Eastern Han Dynasty. Her father drowned in a river, and despite not finding his body for several days, Cao E, at the age of fourteen, cried along the river day and night. On the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, she threw herself into the river. Surprisingly, five days later, Cao E’s body resurfaced while still hugging her father’s body. This miraculous event astonished people. Cao E became a legendary figure, and the village where she lived was renamed Cao’e Town, the river was renamed Cao’e River, and a temple, as well as the famous Cao E Stele, were built in her memory. The fifth day of the fifth lunar month became a day to commemorate Cao E.
Zhou Chu (236-297 AD):
Zhou Chu was a historical figure from Yixing, Jiangsu, during the late Eastern Wu period and early Western Jin dynasty. He was known for his transformation from a wayward youth to a virtuous and loyal official. Zhou Chu held various government positions and was diligent in his work, earning him the reputation of being incorruptible. However, he offended influential figures and was sent to the northwest to suppress rebellions among the Di and Qiang tribes, where he met his demise. The term “Dragon Boat Festival” was first mentioned in Zhou Chu’s book called “Feng Tu Ji” during the Western Jin dynasty. This document became an important reference for studying traditional customs associated with the Dragon Boat Festival. Some people believe that the modern Dragon Boat Festival is also a commemoration of Zhou Chu.
Qiu Jin, also known as Qiu Jin, was martyred on June 5th. Later, in order to honor her poetry and mourn her courageous and loyal deeds, people merged her commemoration with the Poet’s Day, which was originally established to commemorate the patriotic poet Qu Yuan, and designated it as the Dragon Boat Festival. Qiu Jin, whose courtesy name was Ruiqing and also known as the Heroine of Jianting Lake, had the nickname Yugu. She was born in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province. From a young age, she excelled in poetry, lyrics, singing, and prose. She also enjoyed horseback riding and swordplay, and was likened to the legendary figures Hua Mulan and Qin Liangyu. At the age of 28, she participated in the revolution, and her influence was significant. Planning an uprising, she was captured by the Qing army during a meeting but refused to surrender. On June 5th, in the 33rd year of the Guangxu reign, she valiantly sacrificed her life in Xuanhengkou, Shaoxing.
dragon boat festival history list
During the pre-Qin period, the Dragon Boat Festival originated as a tribal festival in the ancient Baiyue region (areas south of the middle and lower Yangtze River) to worship the dragon totem. The prehistoric cultures found in sites like Hemudu indicate that as early as 7,000 years ago or even earlier, there were single-hull boats and wooden paddles used for boat races. It has been determined that dragon boat racing was only feasible in regions with rice cultivation and numerous river ports, which were characteristics of southern China. Abundant unearthed artifacts and archaeological research indicate that the ancient Baiyue people had a splendid civilization and regarded the dragon as their totem. Therefore, the Dragon Boat Festival was originally a festival to pay tribute to the dragon ancestor.
During the Han dynasty, which marked the first major period of development after the unification of China, there was significant economic and cultural exchange between the north and the south, resulting in the merging of customs and traditions. In ancient times, the heavenly stems and earthly branches were commonly used for dating years, months, days, and hours. The fifth month and the fifth day, known as “Wu Yue Wu Ri” in Chinese, were considered as the central and proper time. During the Han dynasty, when the north and south were unified, changes were made to the calendar, and the imperial court designated the Dragon Boat Festival to be celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. Based on existing literary records, the customs of the Dragon Boat Festival in some northern regions during the Han dynasty mainly focused on warding off evil.
During the Wei, Jin, and Northern and Southern Dynasties, frequent wars brought great suffering to the people, so in some areas, the most important Dragon Boat Festival customs revolved around “avoiding soldiers and evil spirits.” As customs are influenced by the ideological consciousness of the ruling class and the activities of righteous individuals in history, the original folk worship origins of the Dragon Boat Festival became associated with commemorating historical figures during the late Han and Wei-Jin periods.
In the Sui and Tang dynasties, the Dragon Boat Festival inherited the customs and forms of the preceding dynasties. In written records, most of the festival’s customs evolved into festive and entertaining activities. The grandeur of the Dragon Boat Festival in the imperial palace during the Tang dynasty is described in Tang Xuanzong’s “Poem Preface for the Banquet of the Three Palaces on the Dragon Boat Festival”: The palace was adorned, and elegant ministers were summoned. Lavish banquets were arranged, and “the broad hall was solemn, filled with a pure and lively atmosphere, and the rows of trees were deep, with a long-lasting breeze.”
The Dragon Boat races, especially during the Tang dynasty, deserve special mention. In the height of the Tang dynasty’s prosperity and stability, the economy flourished, and the lives of the people were relatively stable. In terms of festival entertainment, the trends set by the upper class influenced the masses, and the government also supported various folk customs and activities. Therefore, dragon boat racing thrived during this period.
In the Song dynasty and onwards, many customs of the Dragon Boat Festival underwent further changes. In the Han and Wei periods, it was common to use Zhu Suo (red threads) and Tao Yin (peach-shaped prints) to ward off evil and dispel plagues. However, in the Song dynasty, it became popular to affix Tian Shi Fu (amulets of the Celestial Master) as recorded by Chen Yuanliang’s “Suishi Guangji” quoting from “Suishi Zaji”: “During the Dragon Boat Festival, people in the capital would paint the image of the Celestial Master to sell.” Another custom involved making clay figures of the Celestial Master, using mugwort for the head and garlic cloves for the fists, and placing them on doorways.
During the Song dynasty, the Dragon Boat Festival customs were also adopted by the Liao and Jin dynasties. Other customs during the festival included offering sacrifices to the heavens, shooting willow branches, and playing cuju, a traditional ball game.
In the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Dragon Boat Festival absorbed the custom of shooting willow branches from the Jurchen people. In the Ming dynasty, the festival was also referred to as the “Daughter’s Festival.” The book “Brief Description of the Imperial Capital’s Scenic Spots” states: “From the first to the fifth day of the fifth month, every household dresses up their little girls and adorns them with pomegranateflowers, calling it the ‘Daughter’s Festival.'” During this time, the festival’s name differed from that of the Song dynasty, and there were no dragon boat races in the northern regions due to the lack of convenient waterways.
During the Ming and Qing dynasties, although the forms of the Dragon Boat Festival customs did not change significantly, their scale became more widespread. Dragon boat racing, especially in southern China, became a grand event that caused a sensation. According to the record of “Wuling Jingdu Lue,” dragon boat races were not limited to just one day during this period. Instead, they extended over several days, including the boat’s unveiling on the 8th day of the fourth month, launching new boats on the 5th day, and holding boat races and competitions on the 5th, 10th, and 15th days, with the boat race’s final stage held on the 18th day.
what is the origin of the dragon boat festival?
The Dragon Boat Festival originated from the worship of celestial phenomena and evolved from the ancient practice of worshiping the dragon totem. The dragon boat ritual and customs are closely related to primitive beliefs, ritual culture, the Chinese zodiac, and the astronomical phenomenon of the Azure Dragon’s seven mansions located in the southern sky. The ancient Chinese culture of celestial observations has a long and profound history. Early on, people explored the mysteries of the universe and developed a complex system of star observations. According to the “Chronicle of the Spring and Autumn Annals”: “At the beginning of the creation of heaven and earth, everything was in chaos and ignorance. Yin and yang relied on the celestial bodies, with the heavenly bodies starting from the wilderness of the North Pole… The sun and moon rotate on the five orbits; the heavenly emperor comes out… Establishing the celestial phenomena, regulating the earthly rites, creating the stems and branches to determine the movements of the sun and moon.” In ancient times, people observed the celestial phenomena and regulated the earthly rituals based on the trajectories and positions of the sun, moon, and stars. They divided the area near the ecliptic and celestial equator into 28 groups of constellations, known as the “28 mansions,” and divided them into seven mansions in the four cardinal directions, forming the “Four Symbols.” In the eastern direction, the constellations “Jiao, Kang, Di, Fang, Xin, Wei, and Ji” form a complete dragon-shaped celestial pattern, known as the Azure Dragon’s seven mansions. The appearance and disappearance cycle of the Azure Dragon’s seven mansions aligns with the four seasons of the year. During the Dragon Boat Festival, the Azure Dragon’s seven mansions reach their zenith in the southern sky, symbolizing the peak state of things and an auspicious celestial phenomenon.
In traditional culture, cardinal directions, Chinese zodiac time, and the Eight Trigrams are interconnected. The Eight Trigrams, based on the principle of Qian representing the south and Kun representing the north, with the south representing the celestial realm, designate the southern direction as the Qian position, which corresponds to “heaven.” During the Dragon Boat Festival in midsummer, when the Azure Dragon’s seven mansions reach their zenith in the southern sky (Qian position), it is considered a day when the dragon soars in the heavens. The movements of the Azure Dragon’s seven stars throughout the year and their correlation with events are explained in the line text of Hexagram Qian in the Book of Changes (Yi Jing): “The flying dragon in the sky.” In the Book of Changes, the hexagrams are based on combinations of the Eight Trigrams, resulting in a total of 64 hexagrams. The hexagram Qian is formed by combining two Qian hexagrams, and it consists of six yang lines. In the hexagram lines, yang lines are represented by the number “9,” so the fifth line from the bottom is called “nine in the fifth place.” The fifth line occupies the central position in the Qian hexagram, referred to as “achieving centrality.” Moreover, from the perspective of the overall hexagram, it is in an odd position, and yang lines in odd positions are called “achieving correctness.” Therefore, the fifth line, “nine in the fifth place,” is both “achieving centrality” and “achieving correctness,” and from its position, it is considered highly auspicious. “The flying dragon in the sky” is the most auspicious line in the Qian hexagram of the Book of Changes.
Ancient festivals serve as carriers of ancient culture, and their origins are closely related to ancient traditions. The Dragon Boat Festival originates from the ancient worship of the dragon, which was the primitive belief of the Baiyue people. The Dragon Boat Festival in midsummer is a propitious day when the Azure Dragon’s seven mansions soar in the sky. On this day, the ancient people held festive activities, especially those associated with the dragon, such as dragon totem worship and dragon boat races. It was also a time for prayers and rituals to ward off evil and calamity. Although the details of ancient rituals are obscure and difficult to ascertain, remnants of ancient customs can still be found in subsequent ceremonial practices. The Dragon Boat Festival fully embodies the Chinese concept of the unity of nature and humanity. It is a cultural treasure left by our ancestors, vividly recording the rich and colorful social and cultural life of the Chinese people and embodying profound historical and cultural connotations.
There are multiple explanations and legends regarding the origin of the Dragon Boat Festival (端午节). Here is a translation of the ten different explanations:
One theory suggests that the Dragon Boat Festival originated from the totem worship of the ancient Wu and Yue people in the Jiangnan region. According to Mr. Wen Yiduo’s “An Examination of the Dragon Boat Festival,” it is believed that the festival is actually a celebration of the dragon.
Another theory states that the Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the death of Qu Yuan, a patriotic poet from the state of Chu. According to the book “Xu Qi Xie Ji,” Qu Yuan drowned himself in the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. The Chu people mourned his death by throwing bamboo tubes filled with rice into the river.
The third theory is based on “The Book of Rites,” which mentions that the Dragon Boat Festival originated from the Zhou Dynasty’s custom of bathing with orchids.
The fourth theory, mentioned in Cai Yong’s “Qin Cao,” claims that the Dragon Boat Festival is a commemoration of the virtuous Jie Zitui.
The fifth theory, proposed by Gao Cheng in the Song Dynasty’s “Chronicles of Events and Origins,” suggests that the Dragon Boat Festival originated from the training of the naval forces by King Gou Jian of Yue during the Spring and Autumn period.
The sixth theory, as mentioned in Liang Zonglin’s “Seasonal Records of Jingzhou,” states that the Dragon Boat Festival is held to welcome the “Tao God” Wu Zixu. “The Book of Later Han” also describes how people in Zhejiang and Wu regions would dance on the Cao’e River to welcome Wu Zixu.
The seventh theory states that the fifth day of the fifth lunar month is a day for ancestral worship, as mentioned in “The Book of Dao.”
The eighth theory, recorded in the book “Records of Kuaiji,” claims that the Dragon Boat Festival commemorates Cao E, who drowned herself in the river while searching for her deceased father.
The ninth theory suggests that the Dragon Boat Festival originated from the Summer Solstice Festival during the Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties. As the peak of summer approached, people feared the growth of yin energy, so they used five-colored symbols to decorate their doors on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month to ward off evil.
The tenth theory is a local legend from Sand Lake in Mianyang, Hubei. It tells the story of four heroes who were trapped and killed by local authorities on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month after robbing the rich to help the poor. The local people mourned their deaths and established the Dragon Boat Festival to commemorate them.
Please note that these explanations may vary, and different regions in China may have their own local stories and customs associated with the Dragon Boat Festival.
when was the first dragon boat festival?
The exact origins of the Dragon Boat Festival (端午节) are unclear, and it is difficult to determine the precise date of the first festival. The festival has a long history in China, dating back thousands of years. It is believed to have originated in ancient China and has been celebrated for centuries.
The festival is traditionally held on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, which falls between late May and mid-June in the Gregorian calendar. The earliest known written documentation of the Dragon Boat Festival dates back to the Warring States period (475-221 BCE), in the ancient texts “Chu Ci” (Songs of Chu) and “Shi Ji” (Records of the Grand Historian).
The festival’s association with Qu Yuan, a famous poet from the state of Chu during the Warring States period, is one of the most well-known and widely accepted explanations for its origin. Qu Yuan’s suicide by drowning in the Miluo River is believed to have occurred around the third century BCE, and his death is commemorated during the Dragon Boat Festival.
Overall, while the festival has ancient roots, it has evolved and been influenced by various cultural practices and legends throughout history. The specific date of the first Dragon Boat Festival celebration cannot be definitively determined.
when did the dragon boat festival start?
The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival, originated over two thousand years ago during the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period. The earliest written record mentioning “Duanwu” can be found in the “Feng Tu Ji” during the Jin Dynasty. However, the customs associated with the Dragon Boat Festival existed even before that, such as the tradition of dragon boat racing and ritual ceremonies.
The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival, Duan Yang Festival, or Tianzhong Festival, has its roots in the worship of natural celestial phenomena and evolved from the ancient practice of dragon worship. During the midsummer Duanwu period, the seven constellations of the Azure Dragon ascend to the zenith in the southern sky, occupying the most central position throughout the year. This is depicted in the I Ching (Book of Changes) with the line “The flying dragon in the sky.” The festival’s origin encompasses ancient astronomical culture, and humanistic philosophy, and carries profound cultural connotations. It has incorporated a variety of folk customs over time, making it a rich and diverse cultural event. The two main customs of the Dragon Boat Festival are dragon boat racing and eating zongzi, which have been passed down since ancient times and continue to this day.
what is the significance of dragon boat festival?
The Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional Chinese holiday celebrated by the Han ethnic group to commemorate Qu Yuan, a talented and independent statesman from the Chu Kingdom. It has spread throughout China, shared by different regions and cultures, and Qu Yuan’s name is widely known, symbolizing the noble sentiments of the Chinese nation. The Dragon Boat Festival originated from the ancient Baiyue people in southern China as a festival for ancestral worship. According to legends, Qu Yuan, a poet from the State of Chu during the Warring States period, drowned himself in the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth month. Subsequently, people began to commemorate Qu Yuan on the Dragon Boat Festival.
In summary, the Dragon Boat Festival originated from the southern Baiyue people’s practice of choosing an auspicious day to worship the dragon ancestor and incorporated the cultural belief of “preventing diseases and epidemics” during the summer season. The formation of Dragon Boat Festival customs can be seen as a combination of traditions from both the southern and northern regions of China.
2. The Dragon Boat Festival, along with the Spring Festival, Qingming Festival, and Mid-Autumn Festival, is known as one of the four major traditional Chinese festivals. Dragon Boat Festival culture has a broad influence worldwide, and some countries and regions also have activities to celebrate the festival. The Dragon Boat Festival is deeply rooted in Chinese folklore and customs. Due to its vast territory and the presence of numerous stories and legends, the festival has various names and different customs in different regions.
The Dragon Boat Festival combines various customs such as warding off evil and preventing epidemics, making it a festival believed to have originated from ancient people’s desire to “ward off evil and prevent diseases.” Chinese culture is ancient and profound, and traditional festivals serve as important carriers of this cultural heritage.
3. The Dragon Boat Festival is a widely celebrated folk festival in China and has been a traditional custom of the Chinese people since ancient times. Among traditional festivals, the Dragon Boat Festival is comparable to the Spring Festival in terms of its rich and complex folklore. Both festivals have themes of blessing and warding off disasters, reflecting people’s wishes for prosperity and the elimination of misfortunes.
Throughout its historical development, the Dragon Boat Festival has incorporated various folk customs, resulting in a multitude of customs and diverse celebrations. The festival is lively and festive nationwide, with regional cultural differences leading to variations in customs and details.
During the Dragon Boat Festival, traditional folk activities not only enrich people’s spiritual and cultural lives but also help preserve and promote traditional culture. As an important part of Chinese traditional culture, the Dragon Boat Festival reflects the deep roots and vastness of Chinese culture.
what is the meaning of dragon boat festival?
The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival, is a traditional Chinese holiday celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. It carries several meanings and symbolisms:
Commemoration of Qu Yuan: The primary meaning of the Dragon Boat Festival is to commemorate Qu Yuan, a famous poet and statesman of ancient China. Qu Yuan lived during the Warring States period and was known for his patriotism and literary contributions. The festival honors his memory and his self-sacrifice by drowning himself in the Miluo River as an act of protest against political corruption.
Warding off Evil Spirits: The festival is also associated with driving away evil spirits and preventing diseases. It is believed that during the summer months, evil spirits and harmful creatures are more active. The dragon boat races, the loud beating of drums, and the hanging of medicinal herbs and charms are practices aimed at repelling evil and ensuring good health and fortune.
Cultural Preservation: The Dragon Boat Festival is an important part of Chinese cultural heritage. It has been celebrated for over 2,000 years and is recognized as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO. The festival’s customs, such as dragon boat races, making and eating zongzi (sticky rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves), and hanging up pouches of herbs, are cherished traditions passed down through generations, serving to preserve Chinese culture and identity.
Harvest and Nature: The festival occurs during the summer season, around the time of the summer solstice. It is seen as a celebration of the changing seasons, agricultural harvest, and the power of nature. The dragon, a mythical creature associated with water and rainfall, represents the spirit of the festival and is believed to bring good luck and abundant harvests.
Unity and Teamwork: Dragon boat racing, a central activity of the festival, symbolizes teamwork, unity, and cooperation. Teams of paddlers row in sync to propel the long, narrow boats forward, fostering a sense of camaraderie, trust, and collective effort. The races serve as a reminder of the importance of working together towards a common goal.
Overall, the Dragon Boat Festival carries meanings of cultural remembrance, protection against evil, appreciation of nature, and the promotion of unity and teamwork. It is a time for families and communities to come together, honor traditions, and celebrate the spirit of Qu Yuan and Chinese heritage.
what does the dragon boat festival symbolize?
Blessing for Peace and Safety: Since ancient times, the Dragon Boat Festival has carried the meaning of blessing for peace and safety. People would engage in various activities on this day, such as gathering for a festive meal, wearing longevity threads, painting door charms, washing with herbal water, and more, all with the intention of praying for the well-being of family members and oneself. Therefore, the Dragon Boat Festival is a grand holiday, and even today, our level of importance and reverence for the festival remains high, to the extent that it is designated as a statutory holiday.
Warding off Evil and Disasters: A significant symbolic meaning of the Dragon Boat Festival is the act of warding off evil and disasters. Hence, when the festival approaches, we hang mugwort and calamus, paste noon-time talismans, tie colorful threads, sprinkle noon-time water, burn moxa sticks, apply indigo to ward off evil, dry ginger for a hundred days, hang Hovenia dulcis vines, carry fragrance sachets, tie rainbow-colored ropes, wear bean dolls, paste pictures of the five poisonous creatures, hang Zhong Kui statues, and drink realgar wine, among other practices. These customs are performed to dispel calamities and ward off insects and pests.
Nature Worship: The Dragon Boat Festival also encompasses the symbolism of nature worship, which is connected to its origin. Since ancient times, people have held deep reverence for nature, and on the fifth day of the fifth month, they would offer sacrifices to the dragon totem and nature itself. This is why the tradition of dragon boat racing emerged, and even today, dragon boat races remain one of the most significant folk activities of the Dragon Boat Festival.
why is the dragon boat festival so important?
The Dragon Boat Festival holds significant importance for several reasons:
Cultural Heritage: The festival has a long history and is deeply rooted in Chinese culture. It serves as an important cultural symbol and represents the rich traditions and customs of the Chinese people. Celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival helps to preserve and pass on these cultural elements from one generation to the next.
Commemoration of Qu Yuan: The festival is primarily associated with the commemoration of Qu Yuan, a revered poet and statesman from ancient China. Qu Yuan’s patriotism, literary contributions, and tragic death have made him a symbol of integrity, loyalty, and sacrifice. The Dragon Boat Festival provides an opportunity to honor and remember Qu Yuan’s legacy and contributions to Chinese culture.
Community and Unity: The Dragon Boat Festival is a time for families and communities to come together. People participate in various activities such as dragon boat races, making and sharing zongzi (sticky rice dumplings), and wearing colorful silk threads. These shared experiences foster a sense of unity, strengthen social bonds, and promote a sense of belonging among community members.
Spiritual and Superstitious Beliefs: The festival is associated with various traditional beliefs and practices aimed at seeking blessings, warding off evil spirits, and ensuring good fortune. People engage in rituals such as hanging up pouches of herbs, wearing colorful threads, and making offerings to ancestral spirits. These customs are believed to bring protection, good health, and prosperity to individuals and their families.
Culinary Delights: One of the highlights of the Dragon Boat Festival is the consumption of zongzi, pyramid-shaped sticky rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves. Zongzi represents both a traditional food offering to Qu Yuan’s spirit and a delicious treat enjoyed during the festival. The unique flavors and regional variations of zongzi make it a cherished culinary tradition during this time.
Overall, the Dragon Boat Festival is important because it represents Chinese cultural heritage, honors a revered historical figure, promotes community cohesion, and encompasses spiritual beliefs and traditions. It is a time of celebration, reflection, and unity for the Chinese people, both within China and in Chinese communities around the world.
how to say happy dragon boat festival in chinese?
Dragon Boat Festival is a solemn festival of sacrificial rites, a day of solemnity and remembrance. It is a time to wish for “peace and well-being.” However, it is not customary to exchange greetings of “happiness” during this festival. say: duan wu an kang
dragon boat festival food and drinks
Here is a translation of the Dragon Boat Festival’s food customs:
Eating Zongzi: Zongzi is the most popular food during the Dragon Boat Festival. There are many different types of zongzi, such as savory ones filled with meat, egg yolk, red bean, or plain ones. It is important to consume zongzi in moderation and heat them before eating for safety and easier digestion.
Traditional zongzi of Chinese ethnic minorities:
Yao Ethnicity: The Yao people make zongzi by using glutinous rice and filling it with strips of cured pork, mung beans, creating a type called “pillow zongzi” due to its pillow-like shape, with each weighing approximately 250 grams. They also make vegetarian zongzi by adding ingredients such as brown sugar and peanuts to the glutinous rice.
She Ethnicity: Zongzi of the She people, locally known as “gujiao,” is made by wrapping glutinous rice in bamboo leaves to form a square shape. They are then tied with dragon grass in bundles of ten. Some households also add vegetables, meat, red dates, and other fillings. Alkaline water is commonly used to cook the zongzi, resulting in a yellow and fragrant final product that can be stored for about half a month.
Dai Ethnicity: The Dai people also celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival and eat zongzi. They even have a festival called “Zongzi Festival.” It is said that the “Zongzi Festival” commemorates a pair of young lovers who sacrificed themselves due to parental opposition to their marriage. On this day, unmarried Dai young men make zongzi and meet the girls under mango trees at the Dalongtan. The boys and girls form a circle, with the girls singing love songs and the boys accompanying them by blowing leaves. The young men then give the zongzi they made to the girls they fancy.
Maonan Ethnicity: The Maonan people also celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival, but the significance of the festival is different from that of the Han people. It is known as the “Medicine Festival” in the local folklore. During the festival, it is customary to boil water with medicinal herbs such as mugwort leaves, sweet flags, and turmeric, or use these herbs as fillings for zongzi. It is believed that eating these medicinal zongzi can detoxify and eliminate diseases.
Eating Eggs: It is customary to boil eggs along with zongzi. Some regions also include duck eggs or goose eggs. After eating sweet zongzi, people often eat salted eggs. There is a belief that eating the boiled eggs from the zongzi pot can prevent skin problems in summer.
Harvesting Tea and Making Herbal Tea: In some northern regions, people enjoy picking fresh leaves from trees or wild vegetables to make tea. In areas like Guangdong’s Chaozhou, people gather wild herbs to make refreshing herbal tea, which is considered beneficial for health.
Eating Fried Oil Cake: Besides zongzi, people also eat fried oil cakes during the Dragon Boat Festival. Oil cakes are made by frying a dough of hot oil, sugar, cinnamon, rose, walnut kernels, and lard. They have a soft and sweet texture, making them visually appealing.
Drinking Wujia Wine: “Wujia” refers to the Chinese herb Acanthopanax. It is a tradition to make and drink Wujia wine during the Dragon Boat Festival for its perceived benefits in warding off evil spirits and promoting health. Wujia is believed to have medicinal properties for treating various ailments.
Sticky Rice with Jujube: The Naxi ethnic group celebrates the festival by eating sticky rice with jujube. Sticky rice is known for its ability to nourish the spleen and lungs. However, people with diabetes should be cautious about consuming sticky rice due to its high carbohydrate content.
Eating “Saozi” Noodles: In Shaanxi Province, it is customary to eat “saozi” noodles on the Dragon Boat Festival. Saozi noodles are a local delicacy, featuring thin and chewy noodles with a flavorful sauce. They are a popular choice for celebrating the festival.
Eating Ma Hua (Sesame Twists): Crispy and delicious, Ma Hua, also known as sesame twists, are another traditional snack enjoyed during the Dragon Boat Festival. Eating Ma Hua is believed to bring sweetness and good fortune, as it is considered unlucky to speak ill on this day.
Eating “Five Reds” or “Five Yellows”: In Nanjing, the traditional custom is to eat “Five Yellows,” which includes eel, yellow croaker fish, salted duck egg yolks, cucumber, and herbal liquor. Over time, it has evolved into “Five Reds,” which include roasted duck, amaranth greens, duck eggs, crayfish, and herbal liquor. Consuming these foods is believed to ward off evil and heat during the summer.
Drinking Acorus Wine: Drinking acorus wine is a traditional custom during the Dragon Boat Festival. Acorus wine is made from acorus calamus (sweet flag) and liquor, such as white wine or yellow rice wine. It is believed to have medicinal properties and is consumed to ward off evil spirits and promote good health.
Eating “Jiandui”：In the Jinjiang area of Fujian province, during the Dragon Boat Festival, people eat “Jiandui,” which is made by mixing flour, rice flour or sweet potato flour with other ingredients to form a thick batter, which is then fried. According to legend, in ancient times, the southern part of Fujian experienced a rainy season before the Dragon Boat Festival, with continuous rainfall. It was believed that the heavens had a hole, and it needed to be “repaired.” After eating “Jiandui” during the Dragon Boat Festival, the rain would stop, and people believed that the heavens had been fixed. This food tradition originated from this belief.
Eating “Yezibo”：”Yezibo” is a festival food in Yulin and is an essential delicacy during the Dragon Boat Festival and the Double Ninth Festival. There are many legends about “Yezibo,” but its history is quite ancient. Over time, “Yezibo” gradually evolved into a popular local traditional snack in Yulin.
Eating “Dagao”：The Dragon Boat Festival is a grand festival for the Korean people in Yanbian, Jilin province. The most representative food on this day is the fragrant “Dagao.” “Dagao” is made by pounding artemisia and glutinous rice in a large wooden trough with a long wooden pestle. This food has a strong ethnic character and adds to the festive atmosphere.
Eating “Aimo Mo”：In many places, during the Dragon Boat Festival, rice flour or wheat flour is fermented with artemisia and steamed to make “Aimo Mo.” Artemisia contains various volatile oils, which have aromatic fragrance and can repel insects and kill bacteria. It has inhibitory effects on various bacteria and some skin fungi. Therefore, artemisia is indispensable during the Dragon Boat Festival, whether used as food or for other purposes.
Eating peaches, eggplants, and green beans：In Sichuan, it is customary to eat peaches, eggplants, and green beans during the Dragon Boat Festival, symbolizing good health and longevity. There is a saying, “Eating eggplants will make you shake, eating beans will make you live long.” In Miaoli, the Hakka people also eat eggplants, long beans, peaches, and plums during the Dragon Boat Festival. However, the symbolic meanings of these foods may vary among different regions. Eating peaches symbolizes longevity, while eating plums represents the reproduction of offspring. Some people also believe that it can ward off heatstroke. Eating long beans is to avoid snake bites because the shape of long beans resembles snakes. Eating eggplants can prevent mosquito bites (eggplants are called “diaocai” in the local dialect, and “bite” sounds like “dao,” which is homophonic).
Eating “Mian Shanzi” (Steamed Dough Fan)：In the Minqin County area of Gansu province, people steam “Mian Shanzi” on the Dragon Boat Festival. “Mian Shanzi” is made by steaming fermented dough. It is fan-shaped with 5 layers. Each layer is sprinkled with finely ground black pepper and decorated with various patterns and colors, making it very attractive. This food tradition is said to have evolved from the custom of making, selling, and gifting fans during the Dragon Boat Festival.
Eating “Green Bean Cake”：In many parts of China, besides zongzi, the other protagonist of the Dragon Boat Festival is the “Green Bean Cake.” It has a regular and neat shape, a light yellow color, a fine and compact texture, and a fragrant and soft taste that doesn’t stick to the teeth. The main ingredients for making green bean cakes are green bean flour, pea flour, brown sugar, and osmanthus, making it a good summer snack with heat-clearing and detoxifying properties that benefit the liver and kidneys.
Drinking “Realgar Wine”：There is a saying, “Drinking realgar wine can ward off all illnesses.” Before and after the Dragon Boat Festival, many southern regions of China enter the rainy season, which provides favorable conditions for the activities and reproduction of mosquitoes, flies, and pests. Realgar is a Chinese herbal medicine known for its detoxifying and insecticidal properties. It contains toxic arsenic compounds that can poison pests when ingested and can be used by people to repel insects when applied on the skin. Some people also drink realgar wine during the Dragon Boat Festival, but it is not recommended to consume it internally because the main component of realgar, arsenic disulfide, can decompose into highly toxic arsenic trioxide when heated.
Eating “Thin Pancakes”：In the Wenzhou area, it is customary to eat “thin pancakes” during the Dragon Boat Festival. Thin pancakes are made by mixing refined wheat flour into a batter, which is then baked in a large, flat iron pan, resulting in translucent, round, and thin pancakes resembling a moon. The pancakes are then filled with mung bean sprouts, Chinese chives, shredded meat, shredded eggs, mushrooms, and other ingredients, rolled into cylindrical shapes. When taking a bite, one can taste a variety of flavors.
Eating “Yellow Croaker” and “White Turtle”：In Changwu, the Dragon Boat Festival lunch is usually abundant. Regardless of wealth or poverty, people in Changwu buy yellow croakers (a type of fish) and eat “white turtles,” which actually refers to geese. There is a local saying in the Dongmen area that goes, “Buy yellow croakers and make a big pot.” In the 1950s and 1960s, yellow croakers were promoted as “patriotic fish,” and people would eat them as a staple food during the Dragon Boat Festival.
Eating stir-fried duck and stuffed tofu：In the Ningyuan area of Hunan province, the main celebration during the Dragon Boat Festival is the slaughter of ducks. This is because from Qingming Festival (Tomb-Sweeping Day) until the Dragon Boat Festival, the water and grass are at their most abundant, providing ample natural food for geese, ducks, and snails. Ducks grow strong and their meat becomes tender. This is the best time to enjoy delicious duck meat.
“Wubai” (Five Whites)：Represented by Suzhou in the Jiangnan region, the specialty of the Dragon Boat Festival is “Wubai” (Five Whites), which generally refers to white water caltrop, white-boiled chicken, white tofu, white boiled pork, and white garlic.
Other countries’ traditional Dragon Boat Festival foods:
South Korea: “Aico Cake” + Cherry Tea + Teo Soup
In South Korea, the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated by honoring ancestors, praying for a bountiful harvest, and wishing for good health. During the festival, Koreans enjoy eating Aico Cake and Artemisia Cake, drinking Cherry Tea, and consuming Teo Soup.
Japan: Zongzi/Hakuyoka + Shochu
Zongzi, known as “Cho-maki” in ancient Japan, is a conical-shaped dumpling. Originally, it was made by steaming glutinous rice and then pounding it into a cake-like form, which was wrapped in straw and boiled. Over time, the wrapping materials changed to include Japanese iris leaves, bamboo leaves, and reed leaves, and the preparation methods became more diverse.
Singapore: Nonya Zongzi
In Singapore, the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated with dragon boat races and eating zongzi. One unique traditional food is Nonya Zongzi, which is specific to Singapore. It is made by marinating high-quality lean meat with a special blend of spices and soy sauce, stir-frying it with sweet winter melon strips, and finally wrapping it in translucent sticky rice.
Vietnam: Turmeric Sticky Rice + Square Zongzi
During the Dragon Boat Festival, Vietnamese people prepare Turmeric Sticky Rice to express gratitude to their ancestors for the abundant and prosperous life they have provided to future generations. They also pray for blessings of favorable weather and a bountiful harvest. Additionally, the Vietnamese believe that the turmeric in the rice has properties such as preventing epidemics, detoxification, and treating sores.
dragon boat festival traditions
Dragon Boat Festival is one of the four major traditional festivals in China, featuring diverse customs and rich traditions. Different regions may have variations in their festival customs, but the main customs include dragon boat racing, eating zongzi (sticky rice dumplings), gathering medicinal herbs, hanging mugwort and calamus, worshipping gods and ancestors, performing Zhong Kui dance, holding dragon processions, splashing noontime water, taking herbal baths, soaking dragon boat water, and eating dragon boat rice.
Dragon Boat Racing:
Dragon boat racing is a collective paddling competition and a significant activity during the Dragon Boat Festival. It originated from ancient rituals associated with the worship of dragon totems and has become a popular tradition in coastal regions of southern China. It has also gained international popularity and evolved into an international competition.
Dragon boats and phoenix boats are both seen during the Dragon Boat Festival. The dragon boat races represent the folk worship of dragons, seeking their divine power for blessings and warding off evil spirits.
Hanging Mugwort and Calamus:
During the Dragon Boat Festival, people hang mugwort and calamus as important decorations. Every household cleans and sweeps their homes, and then places calamus and mugwort above their doors and inside their homes. Folklore believes that mugwort has the power to ward off evil and attract blessings. The custom of hanging mugwort during the Dragon Boat Festival has become a long-standing tradition.
Hanging mugwort is practiced in both northern and southern regions, but for different purposes. In the south, it is considered an auspicious day to drive away evil spirits and diseases, while in some northern regions, it is seen as a way to avoid inauspicious days.
Washing Medicinal Herb Water:
Washing medicinal herb water is one of the customs during the Dragon Boat Festival. This day is believed to be when plants have the strongest medicinal properties. It is common in many parts of China to collect and boil medicinal herbs to make herbal baths, as the medicinal properties of the herbs play a vital role in the bathing ritual.
Worshipping Gods and Ancestors:
Worshipping gods and ancestors is an important custom during the Dragon Boat Festival. “Heaven and earth are the root of life; ancestors are the root of the family.” Heaven and earth are considered the foundation of life, and ancestors are seen as the foundation of humanity. Ancestor worship is a practice to pass down filial piety. According to folk beliefs, ancestors, like gods and nature, deserve sincere worship. Ancestors’ spirits are believed to be constantly caring for and watching over their descendants, so rituals are performed to seek their protection and blessings.
Wearing Scented Pouches:
Wearing scented pouches is a traditional custom of the Dragon Boat Festival. The pouches are usually filled with aromatic herbs known for their refreshing scent and therapeutic properties, such as repelling insects, preventing diseases, and driving away evil spirits. During the Dragon Boat Festival, people wear scented pouches tied with colorful threads on their arms. The pouches are small, exquisite, and visually appealing. They are also known as fragrant bags or sachets. They are often made with colorful silk or cloth, filled with herbal powders like Chinese lovage, angelica, vetiver, clove, mugwort, asarum, frankincense, licorice, and realgar. The pouches are embroidered with silk thread and decorated with tassels in red, green, blue, and purple. They are worn on the chest, emitting a pleasant fragrance.
Children often wear scented pouches during the Dragon Boat Festival, believed to ward off evil and prevent diseases. Scented pouches come in various shapes, formed into strings, and come in different colors, appearing small and lovely. It has now become a popular handicraft. In some southern cities of China, young men and women also use scented pouches as a way to express their deep affection.
Carrying “Duānwū Dān”:
Carrying “Duānwū Dān” refers to a traditional practice during the Dragon Boat Festival. In the past, on the day of the festival, the prospective son-in-law (referred to as “maojiǎo nǚxù” in Ningbo dialect) would carry a decorated bamboo basket filled with elaborate gifts to the bride’s home. This act is known as carrying “Duānwū Dān.”
Casting the “Yang Sui”:
The “Yang Sui” ritual mentioned in Wang Chong’s “Lunheng” during the Eastern Han Dynasty describes the custom of casting the “Yang Sui.” It involves taking fire from the heavens and, at noon on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, melting five stones and using the molten metal to cast an object. When the object is polished, it produces a bright light when facing the sun, signifying the acquisition of true fire. According to ancient beliefs, the fifth day of the fifth month represents the culmination of yang energy, and during this time, using fire to overcome metal is considered the best moment for smelting and casting mirrors. The resulting bronze mirrors were believed to possess incredible spiritual power. The custom of using mirrors to ward off evil is deeply rooted in coastal regions of southern China.
Tying Five-Colored Silk Threads:
Five-colored silk threads, also known as “wǔsè sīxiàn” or “wǔcǎi sī,” are used as decorations during the Dragon Boat Festival. The five colors represent the five elements and the five cardinal directions, symbolizing their mutual generation and restriction. These threads are believed to have a mystical power of dispelling evil and attracting good fortune. The tradition of using five-colored silk threads originated from the ancient concept of the five elements in Chinese culture. People would tie the threads around their arms or use them as decorative cords on mosquito nets and cradles. Over time, various beautiful items, such as longevity ropes, longevity locks, and fragrant sachets, have been developed using the five-colored silk threads. These items have become exquisite folk crafts unique to the Dragon Boat Festival.
Soaking Dragon Boat Water:
Soaking dragon boat water is a traditional custom in the southern regions of China during the Dragon Boat Festival. The water collected before and after the festival is known as “dragon boat water,” “Duanyang water,” “dragon-awakening water,” or “dragon-descending water.” It is considered auspicious and believed to have the power to ward off evil spirits. During the Dragon Boat Festival, the active warm and humid air masses in southern China often converge with cold air masses moving from the north, resulting in prolonged and widespread heavy rainfall. When the heavy rain falls during the festival, rivers and water levels rise rapidly, providing excellent conditions for dragon boat races. It is believed that soaking in dragon boat water brings good luck and purifies the body, washing away any ill fortune and bringing blessings.
In southern cities of China, flying kites during the Dragon Boat Festival is a popular tradition. Children often participate in flying kites during this festival, and it is referred to as “releasing misfortune.” Kites, also known as paper kites, are toys made by pasting paper or silk onto frames made of bamboo or other materials. They are flown using long strings and rely on the power of air currents for flight.
Wearing Longevity Threads:
Wearing longevity threads is a traditional accessory during the Dragon Boat Festival, believed to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits. Longevity threads, also known as “chángmìng lǚ,” have various names such as “xùmìng lǚ,” “xùmìng sī,” “yánnián lǚ,” “chángshòu xiàn,” “bǎisuǒ,” “bìbīng shào,” or “wǔcǎi lǚ.” They are typically made by twisting silk threads of different colors together. These threads are hung at the door, worn by children around their necks or tied to their arms, or hung on beds, cradles, and other places. It is believed that they can ward off evil, protect against disasters and illnesses, and bring longevity and good fortune. This custom originated in the Han Dynasty. According to Ying Shao’s “Fengsu Tong,” people would tie five-colored silk threads around their arms on the fifth day of the fifth month to ward off evil spirits and diseases, and it was called “longevity threads” or “warding-off-armbands.”
Collecting Medicinal Herbs:
Collecting medicinal herbs is an ancient custom during the Dragon Boat Festival. It is believed that the yang energy is at its peak on this day, making it the best time for the growth of plants with medicinal properties. During the Dragon Boat Festival, many regions in China have the custom of fumigating with mugwort leaves, hanging calamus, and consuming herbal wines. Medicinal herbs play a vital role during this festival, and it is considered the most suitable time for herbal preparations.
Fetching Noon Water:
“Fetching noon water” is a traditional custom prevalent in coastal areas of southern China during the Dragon Boat Festival. It involves fetching water from a well between 11 am and 1 pm, which is believed to be the most auspicious and effective water. The water fetched during this time, known as “noon water” or “dragon-eye water,” is considered to have powerful properties for warding off evil. It is believed that during noon, when the yang energy is at its peak, fetching water can cleanse the body, remove misfortune, and eliminate obstacles.
Placing Noon Time Talismans:
In the past, some places in Guangdong, China, had the custom of placing “noon time talismans.” After lunch, families would hang “noon time talismans” on their doors. These talismans were yellow strips of paper, about an inch wide and nearly a foot long, with words written in cinnabar, such as “Written on the fifth day of the fifth month at noon, it eliminates official disputes, verbal conflicts, illnesses, snakes, and ants.” They would also hang calamus, phoenix tails, and mugwort on their doors, and tie bundles of garlic, painted with cinnabar, to ward off evil. Some families would paste small yellow paper couplets on their doors, with phrases like “Welcoming blessings with the flag of mugwort and repelling evil with the sword of calamus.”
“New Bride Skills”
The people of Guangzhou attach great importance to the Dragon Boat Festival. According to the old customs, from the second to the fourth day of the fifth lunar month, there is a tradition of sending festival greetings. Young “new brides” (daughters-in-law) prepare a “complete box” containing six or four compartments, filled with rice dumplings, pork, chicken, eggs, fruits, and wine, to present to their parents’ home and offer festive greetings to the elders. Girls and children hang scented sachets, which are woven with colorful threads and filled with sandalwood, star anise, Sichuan pepper, and aromatic substances. Usually, these sachets are sent by the new brides, showcasing their virtues and skills, hence the name “new bride skills.”
“Sending Disaster Away”
“Sending disaster away” is a traditional folk custom that was popular in some southern regions of China during the Dragon Boat Festival. The purpose of this custom is to ward off evil and eliminate calamities. At noon on the Dragon Boat Festival, people would wash their hands and eyes with water in which talismans were burned, and then sprinkle the water along the streets, a practice known as “sending disaster away.” Another form of this custom involves welcoming the procession of deity statues from local temples, symbolizing the descent of gods into the mortal world to bless the community. Taoist priests would also use ritual water and talismans to drive away evil spirits.
“Burning Artemisia Leaves”
“Burning Artemisia leaves” is one of the traditional customs during the Dragon Boat Festival. In this folk activity, people use Artemisia leaves to disinfect the air. The natural Artemisia leaves are bound together and burned, producing a thin smoke that not only emits a pleasant fragrance but also drives away mosquitoes and creates a refreshing atmosphere.
“Competing with Plants”
“Competing with plants” is a folk game derived from collecting medicinal herbs. On the Dragon Boat Festival, people go out to find and compare various unique or diverse flowers and plants. The winner is determined by the novelty or variety of the plants collected. The origin of this game is uncertain, but it is generally believed to be related to the development of traditional Chinese medicine. There is no record of this game before the Han Dynasty. The game involves exchanging names of flowers and plants, showcasing botanical and literary knowledge. Children may engage in a variation of the game by linking leaf stalks and pulling them. The one whose leaf breaks loses, and another leaf is selected for the competition.
“Drawing the ‘Wang’ Character”
During the Dragon Boat Festival, there is a custom of applying realgar powder on the foreheads of children to ward off evil insects. A typical method involves using realgar wine to draw the character “王” (Wang) on the forehead of a child. This practice serves two purposes: the realgar is believed to ward off toxins, and the character “王” (Wang), which resembles a tiger, represents the king of beasts and is used to suppress evil spirits. According to the book “Yan Jing Sui Shi Ji” by Fu Cha Dun Sui during the Qing Dynasty: “Starting from the first day of the Dragon Boat Festival, realgar mixed with wine is sprinkled and applied on the neck and between the nose and ears of children to prevent toxins.” In addition to the forehead and nose, realgar could be applied to other parts of the body with the same intention. The Shanxi “Hequ County Annals” states: “During the Dragon Boat Festival, realgar wine is consumed, and it is applied to the forehead, hands, and soles of children’s feet… with the belief that it can ward off diseases and prolong life.”
The “Pea Lady” is a head accessory worn by women during the Dragon Boat Festival in ancient times. It was commonly seen in the Jiangnan region. In some areas, it is also called “Jianren.” It is said to be derived from the ancient “buyao” head accessory or a unique form of the Artemisia head accessory. “Qing Jia Lu” quotes “Tang Song Yi Ji” as saying, “In the Jiangnan region, on the fifth day, hairpins are adorned with colorful and exquisite designs, made of silk and embroidered with patterns of immortals, Buddhas, magpies, snakes, fish, and various animals, as well as auspicious treasures.”
“Avoiding the Five Poisons”
In ancient times, the Dragon Boat Festival was considered a day of poison and evil in the minds of people in northern China. This belief has been passed down through folk beliefs, giving rise to various customs and practices aimed at seeking safety and avoiding the “Five Poisons.” The “Five Poisons” refer to centipedes, venomous snakes, scorpions, geckos, and toads, which were regarded as the five major poisonous creatures in ancient northern China. Based on existing literary records, the customs associated with the Dragon Boat Festival in northern China during the Han and Jin dynasties primarily revolved around avoiding evil spirits. In ancient times, the customs and beliefs varied between the northern and southern regions. The people in northern China considered the Dragon Boat Festival as a “day of poison and evil” and tried to avoid it. This was mainly due to the hot and dry weather in the northern summer, making it prone to epidemics, as well as the proliferation of snakes and insects that could bite people. Gradually, this led the ancient people in the northern regions to develop customs such as “avoiding the Five Poisons” and “avoiding the Dragon Boat Festival.”
Jumping Zhong Kui and Hanging Zhong Kui Image
Jumping Zhong Kui: It is a folk dance also known as “Xi Zhong Kui”. It is said that Jumping Zhong Kui originated from the Northern Song Dynasty and is a traditional folk performance inherited from ancient Huizhou. It includes various contents such as “Going on Patrol”, “Marrying Off a Sister”, “Eliminating the Five Poisons”, etc., which embody the people’s admiration for Zhong Kui’s righteousness and their hopes for eliminating harm and bringing blessings. In folklore, “Zhong Kui” is a symbol of warding off evil spirits and promoting righteousness. Jumping Zhong Kui during the Dragon Boat Festival symbolizes the elimination of the five poisons, peace throughout the seasons, and abundant life. In the Qing Dynasty, residents in the Jiangnan region, particularly in Jiangsu and Zhejiang, would hang Zhong Kui paintings on their gates or in their halls during the fifth month of the lunar calendar, aiming to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune.
Zhong Kui Catching Ghosts: It is a popular custom during the Dragon Boat Festival in the Jianghuai region. In the Jianghuai region, every household hangs Zhong Kui images to protect their homes and ward off evil spirits. According to legend, during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty, he fell seriously ill with malaria after returning to the palace from Li Mountain, where he had been practicing martial arts. He dreamt of two ghosts, one big and one small. The small ghost wore red pants and stole Yang Guifei’s sachet and the emperor’s jade flute, running around the palace. The big ghost, wearing a blue robe and hat, caught the small ghost, gouged out its eyes, and swallowed it whole. When Emperor Xuanzong woke up, his malaria was cured. He ordered the painter Wu Daozi to create a painting based on the dream, depicting Zhong Kui catching ghosts, and ordered that it be posted everywhere during the Dragon Boat Festival to ward off evil spirits.
Just as the Spring Festival has dragon and phoenix dances, the Dragon Boat Festival has dragon boats and phoenix boats. The origin of the phoenix boat is mentioned above, derived from the ancient bird boats and egret boats. In ancient palaces, there were phoenix boats (as recorded in the book “Tianfu Guangji” during the Ming Dynasty), and in folk customs, there were phoenix boat races. The “Yue Nang” records: “Dragon boats are used to pay homage to officials, and phoenix boats are used to worship the Heavenly Empress. Both are celebrated on the fifth day of the month. In the summer of the Gengwu year, the villagers of Shiqiao Village in Panyu, with a gathering of ten thousand gold, made a phoenix boat that was ten zhang long and one zhang wide, with the head and tail held high, the wings spread out, and the back carrying a palace. It was used to worship the Heavenly Empress and tour the various water towns.” After 1964, Hong Kong also had airship races. These airships were slightly shorter and could accommodate 16 team members. They were adorned with phoenix heads and phoenix tails, and competed with female team members. It was indeed a good form of competition, symbolizing the union of dragon and phoenix.
In some places, there are also dragon phoenix boats. The “Shunde County Chronicles” records: “The dragon phoenix boats in Daliang are incredibly magnificent.” However, they are no longer seen today. In Miluo County, Hunan, the dragon boat has a dragon head at the front and a phoenix tail at the back. The phoenix tail is made of bamboo strips wrapped in red paper and inserted into the stern of the boat in a fan shape, resembling a rectangular tail, which can also be called a dragon phoenix boat. The dragon phoenix boat seems to be a trace left behind by the fusion of dragon boats and bird boats.
Writing Talismans and Chanting Incantations
In addition to using mugwort, calamus, and garlic, known as the “Three Friends of the Dragon Boat Festival,” to drive away evil spirits, there is another important method of exorcism, which is hanging talismans to ward off evil spirits indoors. There are also strict rituals for hanging exorcism talismans. For example, some require them to be written at sunrise or noon on the Dragon Boat Festival day, using fresh cinnabar as writing material, with saltpeter placed in the inkstone and in the mouth of the person writing the talisman. Common talismans include phrases like “On the fifth day of May, on this festival in the heavens, red mouth and white tongue shall be eradicated.” In the past, people in Shanghai used to hang Zhong Kui images at their doorsteps during the Dragon Boat Festival, which was a continuation and evolution of this warding off evil customs. Additionally, similar customs of dispelling ghosts and warding off evil spirits include applying realgar wine on children’s foreheads. Early in the morning of the festival, women would clip mugwort on children’s ears, put calamus on their heads, and then write the character “王” (king) on their foreheads with realgar wine. It is said that this scares away evil spirits and protects their lives and longevity.
“Different from the dragon boat races in the southern regions, the most distinctive feature of the Dragon Boat Festival in the northern parts of China is archery and playing horse polo.”
The various ethnic groups in northern China have never had the tradition of dragon boat races during the Dragon Boat Festival, nor do they know about the patriotic poet Qu Yuan from the Han ethnic group in the southern regions. However, in the history of the Liao, Jin, and Qing dynasties, there were athletic customs of the Khitan and Jurchen ethnic groups and later the Eight Banners soldiers engaging in horseback archery and horse polo competitions during the Dragon Boat Festival.
One of the traditional games of the Dragon Boat Festival for the people in northern China is shooting willow (She Liu). It is said that this athletic activity appeared during the Liao Dynasty and continued until the late Qing Dynasty.
Shooting willow takes place in the early morning of the Dragon Boat Festival. First, a section of the green bark is peeled off the upper part of a willow trunk, exposing the white wood, which serves as the target. Then, the participants take turns riding on horseback, drawing bows, and shooting at the exposed white spot. The winner is determined by the one who shoots and breaks the willow trunk and catches it while riding on horseback. The “Jin Shi” records, “The Jin Dynasty adopted the customs of the Liao people, and on the fifth day of May, they would insert willow branches into the ground, leaving only a few inches exposed, and peel off the bark to make it white. First, a person would ride on horseback as a guide, and then others would ride on horseback and shoot the target with featherless arrows. After breaking the willow, the person who catches it with their hand and takes it away is considered the winner. Those who break it but fail to catch it come next. A drum is played with each shot to boost their spirits.” During the Ming Dynasty, the game evolved to shooting birds and sparrows stored in gourds. This festive athletic competition continued as a tradition until the late Qing Dynasty.
Horse polo, also known as one of the games played during the Dragon Boat Festival, is played by riding on horses and striking a ball with a stick. In ancient times, it was called “Ji Ju” (击鞠). The phrase “连翩击鞠壤” appears in Cao Zhi’s “Naming the Capital” in the Three Kingdoms period. During the Tang Dynasty in Chang’an, there were spacious polo fields, and emperors like Xuanzong and Jingzong enjoyed playing horse polo. The mural “Horse Polo” in the tomb of Crown Prince Zhang Huai from the Tang Dynasty depicts the prosperity of horse polo during that time. In the painting, more than twenty spirited horses gallop, their tails tied up, while players wearing headgear, long boots, and holding polo sticks compete to strike the ball. The “Xi Jin Zhi” records that the Liao Dynasty regarded playing horse polo as a traditional custom during the Dragon Boat Festival and Double Ninth Festival. The “Jin Shi” also records that the Jurchen people played horse polo during the Dragon Boat Festival. During the Song Dynasty, there was a dance troupe called “Da Qiu Le” (打球乐) performing. Horse polo remained popular during the Ming Dynasty. The “Xu Wenxian Tongkao – Le Kao” records that Emperor Chengzu of the Ming Dynasty played polo and shot willow several times in the Eastern Park. The long scroll painting “Emperor Xuanzong’s Enjoyment” from the Ming Dynasty depicts Emperor Xuanzong enjoying a horse polo match. Official Wang Zhi wrote a poem about watching the polo game on the Dragon Boat Festival: “Jade reins worth a thousand gold, carved ball of seven treasures. The whip flies, startling like lightning, and the horses gallop, creating flowing stars. Three victories passed with a burning page, and the joyous news spreads of the first triumph. Celebratory clouds follow their nimble feet, swirling around the east side of the palace.” There was also a horseback polo event for the masses in front of Baiyun Temple in Beijing. During the Qing Dynasty, there was still horse polo around the area of the Temple of Heaven until the middle of the Qing Dynasty, after which horse polo disappeared. In recent years, there has been a revival of the ancient horse polo sport in Xi’an City, bringing this age-old athletic activity back to the land of China.
Bathing in Orchid Water
Bathing in orchid water on the Dragon Boat Festival is an ancient custom recorded in the “Dai Li” (Book of Rites). At that time, orchids referred to chrysanthemums from the Asteraceae family, which had a fragrant scent and could be boiled to make bathing water. The line “浴兰汤会沭芳” (bathing in orchid water, gathering fragrances) appears in the poem “Yun Zhong Jun” from the “Nine Songs” collection. The “Jingchu Suishi Ji” states, “On the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, it is called the Bathing in Orchid Festival.” The “Wu Za Zong” records that people during the Ming Dynasty would bathe with five-colored grass if orchid water was unavailable. Later on, it became common to bathe using fragrant herbs such as Artemisia and mugwort. In Guangdong, people would use Artemisia, Typha, Impatiens, and white magnolia, while in Hunan, Guangxi, and other regions, they would boil cypress leaves, Acorus, Artemisia, Typha, and peach leaves to make a medicinal bath. Regardless of age or gender, the entire family would participate in this custom, which is still observed today and is believed to treat skin diseases and expel evil qi.
During the Dragon Boat Festival, peach-shaped ornaments are also used as door decorations. Peaches are items used to ward off evil spirits in folklore, originating from the mythology of Shentu and Yulei. Carving peach-shaped stamps signifies the intention of expelling evil. The “Xu Han Shu – Li Yi Zhi” states, “Using red threads and peach-shaped stamps as door decorations to stop malevolent energy.” The later superstitions of amulets and auspicious gourds trace their origins back to this tradition.
In the “Meng Liang Lu” Volume Three, it is mentioned that officials and their families would write the phrase “On the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, on the festival day, all red-mouthed and white-tongued beings are eliminated” during the noon hour on the Dragon Boat Festival, which was a custom of the Song Dynasty. The “Yan Jing Sui Shi Ji” also records, “On Duanyang day, colored paper is cut into various gourd shapes, and they are pasted upside down on the door to dispel poisonous energy.” This was a custom of the Qing Dynasty. Some gourds were adorned with tassels, ribbons, or crafted into the shapes of the Five Poisons and hung on the door to signify the dispelling of toxic energy. This is known as the “Reversing Disaster” gourd.
Even today, it is still a folk custom to hang mirrors in front of doors to ward off evil spirits. In the Tang Dynasty, a bronze mirror was cast at the center of the Yangtze River in Yangzhou during the noon hour on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month and presented as a tribute to the emperor. It was known as the “Emperor’s Mirror,” symbolizing the warding off of evil (as recorded in the “Supplement to the Tang Dynasty Annals”). Therefore, in later times, mirrors were often hung in front of doors to expel evil spirits.
Dragon Boat Festival Rain
Dragon Boat Festival rain is a folk belief and practice for divination of the seasonal changes. According to folk beliefs, if it rains on the Dragon Boat Festival, it is considered inauspicious, while fair weather is seen as auspicious. This belief dates back to the Song Dynasty. Chen Yuanjing’s “Suishi Guangji” quotes the “Ti Yao Lu,” stating, “On the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, people expose medicines, and there will be no calamities in that year. If it rains, ghosts will expose medicines, and people will suffer from various illnesses. This is a saying from the central Fujian region.” Xu Yueqing’s commentary on his poem “Ci Yun Shu Ren Li Shi Zhou Fei Du” explains, “People in Linqian say that if it rains on the Dragon Boat Festival, ghosts prosper and people suffer calamities.” Zhao Huaiyu’s annotations on his poem also include the saying, “On Duanyang day, fair weather brings a bountiful year.”
wearing during the dragon boat festival
The Dragon Boat Festival, celebrated during the scorching hot season every year, has a unique traditional significance that requires people to pay attention to both warding off evil spirits and summer heat. This inevitably leads to distinct clothing choices for the festival.
It is often said that food is of utmost importance to people, and when it comes to important festivals, our first thought is usually about what to eat. However, who really knows what clothing is more “suitable” for these traditional festivals? Take the Dragon Boat Festival, for example. If you randomly interview people on the street, even children know that people should eat Zongzi during the festival. But when it comes to what clothes to wear, very few people can provide a definitive answer.
Throughout history, our ancestors celebrated the Dragon Boat Festival with magnificent festival attire, fragrant herbal pouches, and light silk and gauze fabrics.
In ancient times, the Dragon Boat Festival held a high status and had significant influence, second only to New Year’s Day and the Winter Solstice. The festival customs were quite rich, including dragon boat races, eating Zongzi, and various customs related to welcoming summer, prolonging longevity, and warding off evil spirits. It is a comprehensive festival with many items to prepare. Apart from the well-known Zongzi, Artemisia, calamus, painted fans, and sachets, there are also special clothing customs.
Even before the Dragon Boat Festival arrives, the government may conduct large-scale clothing distribution activities. In other words, the government provides summer clothes for its citizens during the Dragon Boat Festival. However, not everyone enjoys this benefit, as it is primarily limited to civil servants. The practice of granting seasonal clothing as rewards has existed since the Han and Jin dynasties, initially providing four-season clothing and fabrics only to important officials and the imperial guards. After the Tang Dynasty, the concept of festival attire emerged, and during the Dragon Boat Festival, some officials were granted special Dragon Boat Festival clothes along with various festival items as a special welfare for the holiday.
Since the late Tang Dynasty and the Five Dynasties, the practice of granting Dragon Boat Festival clothes gradually became a fixed and formal system that was fully implemented. Due to the widespread distribution of clothing, the fabrics and quantities of clothing granted on the Dragon Boat Festival day varied for different recipients, which to some extent became a symbol of social status.
In ancient times, there were various themes depicted on Dragon Boat Festival clothing, to an extent that is difficult to imagine. The main themes included Artemisia tigers, the Five Poisons, Tian Shi (Heavenly Master), Golden Rooster and the Five Auspicious Symbols, dragon boats, and other patterns, which were widely used in various garments, jewelry, and accessories.
This brings us to the concept of the “Five Poisons.” In people’s perception, it may not be a positive term, so why would it be used as a festival theme and worn on clothing?
You see, in ancient times, as temperatures rose, poisonous insects thrived, making people susceptible to diseases. May was considered an inauspicious month, and the fifth day of May was considered an unlucky day. To ward off evil and avoid harm, the use of the Five Poisons patterns became an important custom during this period. The Five Poisons generally refer to snakes, scorpions, geckos, centipedes, and toads. They are often accompanied by tiger patterns, Artemisia, and other symbols that can eliminate venomous creatures, collectively known as Artemisia Tigers and Five Poisons. Additionally, the rooster is considered capable of dispelling the Five Poisons, so it is also a commonly used pattern during the Dragon Boat Festival. It is a folk tradition to paste rooster-shaped cutouts to ward off the Five Poisons during the Dragon Boat Festival.
The custom of wearing clothing with Artemisia Tigers patterns became widespread since the Song Dynasty. In the Ming Dynasty, the use of decorative flowers, brocade weaving, and embroidery techniques to depict colorful Artemisia Tigers and Five Poisons patterns became popular, resulting in more luxurious Dragon Boat Festival attire, also known as the Five Poisons festival attire. This type of attire was extremely elaborate and costly, which led to criticism later on, as it was considered a waste of resources to spend so much on Five Poisons fabric for just one day each year.
To ward off misfortune and evil, the Dragon Boat Festival also has several guardian deities, whose images may appear on festival attire. Common examples include Zhang Tian Shi, Zhong Kui, Guan Yu, and Lei Shen, with Zhong Kui being the most well-known. This style may be difficult for modern people to accept, don’t you think?
Since the early Qing Dynasty, the formal system of weaving and distributing festival attire in the imperial court gradually declined. However, the use of Artemisia Tiger and Five Poisons patterns continued among the common people. As young children are more vulnerable to illnesses, it is most common to see Artemisia Tiger and Five Poisons patterns on children’s clothing during the Dragon Boat Festival. This includes various garments adorned with Five Poisons patterns, Artemisia Tiger bellybands, Five Poisons tiger-head shoes, and tiger-head caps, which were widely used until modern times.
During the midsummer of ancient times without air conditioning, Chinese people adorned themselves with colorful and lightweight silk summer clothes decorated with patterns of Artemisia Tigers, Five Poisons, Tian Shi, and Five Auspicious Symbols. They would tie colorful long-life threads, wear Five Poisons sachets and hairpins, and wave Five Poisons silk fans, bringing a touch of colorful coolness to the scorching and ominous day of the Dragon Boat Festival, and thus bestowing a sense of peace and warding off evil in their hearts.
Dragon Boat Festival Ornaments:
Jianren is a traditional ornament worn by women during the Dragon Boat Festival in the Jiangsu and Zhejiang regions of China. It is typically made of gold or silver threads, copper wire, or gold foil and is crafted in the shape of a small person riding a tiger. Some variations may include bells, tassels, garlic, and zongzi (sticky rice dumplings). Jianren is worn in the women’s hair or offered as a gift. According to the Qing Dynasty’s “Qing Jia Lu,” during the Dragon Boat Festival, people crafted intricate designs of tassels, bells, and tiger riders made of gold and silver threads. They were attached to small hairpins and sometimes made of copper wire and gold foil for women to wear in their hair. They were also exchanged as gifts and called Jianren. Another explanation is that Jianren is an alternative form of Ai Ren (Artemisia person), using silk fabric instead of Artemisia. According to Wu Manyun’s “Jiangxiang Jiewu Ci Xiaoxu,” in Hangzhou customs, Jianren is the same as Ai Ren, but silk fabric is used instead. It is made in the shape of a tiger or a camel. Women wear it. This suggests that it may have had the purpose of warding off evil spirits and preventing illness. Another explanation is that it refers to ancient hair ornaments purely for women’s decoration.
Douniang is a head ornament worn by women during the Dragon Boat Festival in the past, particularly in the Jiangnan region. It is sometimes referred to as Jianren as well. It is believed to have originated from the ancient ritual dance called Buyao, or it may be another form of Ai Ren. According to the “Qing Jia Lu,” quoting “Tang Song Yi Ji,” during the Dragon Boat Festival, women in Jiangnan showcased colorful hairpins and ornaments in various elaborate designs. They used silk thread to create Artemisia leaf patterns, embroidery of immortals, Buddhas, magpies, worms, fish, and various animals, as well as patterns of eight treasures and flowers. They used crumpled silk threads to create spiders, phoenixes, unicorns, and caterpillars. They also created praying mantises, spiders, cicadas, and scorpions, as well as gourds and melons. The variety and intricacy were beyond measure. In addition to the ornaments, there were decorative banners, embroidered balls with tassels, and various shapes of bells and chimes, sometimes strung together. These ornaments were called “Douniang” and were impossible to fully describe.
Ai Hu is an object used during the Dragon Boat Festival to ward off evil spirits and serve as a decorative item. In ancient China, the tiger was considered a sacred animal believed to ward off evil spirits and protect people from harm. According to the “Fengsu Tong,” the tiger was regarded as a masculine and yang creature, the king of all animals, capable of devouring ghosts and evil spirits. Therefore, people often used the tiger as a symbol to ward off evil spirits, and the Artemisia tiger during the Dragon Boat Festival is the most distinctive representation of this belief. The Ai Hu can be made by weaving and cutting Artemisia or by cutting colored paper into the shape of a tiger and sticking it with Artemisia leaves. It is worn on the hair or by the side of the body. The tradition of wearing Ai Hu during the Dragon Boat Festival has a history of over a thousand years. Chen Yuanguai, a Song Dynasty writer, quoted “Suishi Guangji” in his “Suishi Guangji”: “During the Dragon Boat Festival, the tiger is made of Artemisia, even as small as black beans. Sometimes, it is cut into small tigers and decorated with Artemisia leaves. People wear it on their hair. Wang Yigong wrote in his poem “Duanwu Tiezi”: “Ai tiger on the hairpin, warding off all evil spirits; driving the auspicious cloud, the treasure chariot of seven jewels.” Fu Chaidun from the Qing Dynasty wrote in his “Yanjing Suishi Ji”: “During the Dragon Boat Festival, skillful women used silk fabric to create small tigers and zongzi… They were threaded with colored threads and hung on hairpins or tied to the backs of children. The ancient poem says, ‘Jade swallow hairpin, Ai tiger, light and agile,’ expressing this meaning.” In addition to wearing Ai Hu as an ornament, the Dragon Boat Festival also has the custom of using realgar to draw the Chinese character “王” (Wang) on children’s foreheads to ward off evil spirits.
The custom of applying realgar on children’s foreheads during the Dragon Boat Festival to ward off poisonous insects. The typical method is to use realgar wine to draw the Chinese character “王” (Wang) on the children’s foreheads. It serves the purpose of warding off toxins and using the image of a fierce tiger (the Chinese character “王” resembling a tiger’s forehead pattern) to suppress evil spirits. According to Fu Chaidun’s “Yanjing Suishi Ji,” during the Dragon Boat Festival, from the first day of the festival, realgar mixed with wine is sprinkled and applied to the children’s foreheads and the area between the nose and ears to ward off poisonous creatures. In addition to applying it on the forehead and nose, it can also be applied to other parts of the body with the same intention. The Shanxi “Hequ County Annals” states, “During the Dragon Boat Festival, realgar wine is consumed and applied to the foreheads, hands, and soles of children… to prevent disease and promote longevity.”
Chang Ming Lü:
“Chang Ming Lü” is a traditional ornament or accessory worn during the Dragon Boat Festival. It is also known as “Xu Ming Lü,” “Xu Ming Si,” “Yan Nian Lü,” or “Chang Shou Xian,” and may have other names such as “Bai Suo,” “Pi Bing Shao,” or “Wu Cai Lü.” The names may vary, but their forms and functions are generally similar. This custom involves using multicolored threads to create a tied cord or string during the Dragon Boat Festival. The cord can be hung at the door, worn around the neck of a child, tied around their arm, or hung on the bed or cradle. It is believed that wearing or displaying the “Chang Ming Lü” can ward off disasters, promote health and well-being, and extend one’s lifespan. There are five main forms of this ornament: a simple cord made by twisting multicolored threads and tied around the arm, a cord with gold or tin ornaments hanging around the neck, a folded cord worn on the chest, a cord formed into a human figure worn as a pendant, and a cord embroidered with images of the sun, moon, stars, and animals, which is offered as a respectful tribute. This custom originated during the Han Dynasty. In the Eastern Han Dynasty, Ying Shao mentioned in the book “Feng Su Tong” that on the day of the Dragon Boat Festival, people would tie multicolored threads around their arms to ward off ghosts and soldiers, preventing people from falling ill. It was also known as “Chang Ming Lü” or “Pi Bing Shao.” This tradition has been passed down and continued to the present day. In the Qing Dynasty, Fu Chaidun mentioned in the book “Yan Jing Sui Shi Ji” that skilled women in the boudoir would use colorful silk fabric to make small tigers, zongzi, jars, cherries, mulberries, and other objects. They would thread them with colored threads and hang them on hairpins or tie them to the backs of children. During the Tang and Song Dynasties, there are records of the imperial court gifting such ornaments to ministers during the Dragon Boat Festival. It is mentioned in historical records that in the first year of the Xingyuan period of Emperor Dezong of the Tang Dynasty, the imperial court bestowed a hundred cords as gifts. In the “Song Shi Li Zhi,” it is recorded that on the day before the festival, officials were given golden cords for longevity and multicolored threads for extended lifespan. They would wear them during the festival.
Gua He Bao
“Gua He Bao” is a traditional folk craft associated with the Dragon Boat Festival. Chen Shijing’s “Suishi Guangji” quotes from “Suishi Zaji” mentioning a type of ornament made on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. It is made of red and white colorful fabric in the shape of a bag, threaded with colored strings to create a floral pattern. Another mentioned item is the “Conch Powder Bell,” which involves putting conch powder into silk fabric and stringing it with cotton to form a beaded necklace. These portable pouches have undergone various changes in their contents over time, ranging from sweat-absorbing conch powder, protective amulets, copper coins, to insect-repelling realgar powder. They have evolved into fragrant sachets filled with aromatic substances and have become unique folk crafts associated with the Dragon Boat Festival.
Shuan Wuse Sizhen
“Shuan Wuse Sizhen” or “Tying Multicolored Threads” is another custom during the festival. In ancient China, there was a reverence for the five colors as auspicious colors. Therefore, on the morning of the Dragon Boat Festival, one of the first things adults would do is tie multicolored threads around the wrists, ankles, and necks of children. It is considered taboo for children to speak while the threads are being tied. The multicolored threads should not be arbitrarily broken or discarded but instead thrown into the river during a heavy rain or the child’s first bath in the summer. It is believed that children wearing these threads can ward off the harm of snakes and scorpions. Throwing the threads into the river symbolizes washing away plagues and diseases with the flowing water, ensuring the well-being of the children. Ying Shao’s “Fengsu Tong” records: “On the fifth day of the fifth month, people tie multicolored threads around their arms. It is called Chang Ming Lü, Xu Ming Lü, Bi Bing Zeng, Wu Se Lü, or Zhu Suo, to ward off soldiers, ghosts, and prevent people from falling ill.” The multicolored threads are not simply colorful threads but specifically consist of red, yellow, blue, white, and black threads combined to form a cord.
Dragon Boat Festival Taboo
Every year on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, it is the Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival. In traditional culture, this day is considered the peak of yang energy, and excessive yang energy can lead to “yang poison.” Therefore, May is also known as the “poisonous month.” The term “Duan” in Duanwu means the beginning, so celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival signifies a good start and implies that the days ahead will be good. Therefore, there are many taboos on this day.
Not wearing red clothes.
The Dragon Boat Festival originally originated as a summer festival to ward off evil spirits. It later evolved into a holiday for ancestor worship and commemorating the wise. After Qu Yuan’s suicide in the Miluo River, the Dragon Boat Festival became a festival to commemorate him. Whether it is worshiping ancestors or Qu Yuan, people’s mood is one of sadness, so it is not suitable to wear bright red clothes on this day.
Not going swimming and avoiding eerie places.
The older generation believes that it is not advisable to go swimming in the river on the Dragon Boat Festival because Qu Yuan jumped into the river on this day. The elderly fear encountering unclean things, so swimming in the river is prohibited. Besides, the weather is not hot enough to require swimming at this time. The water temperature is still cool, which is not beneficial to health. Therefore, there is no need to swim on this day.
Hospitals, cemeteries, and similar places are considered eerie places. The elderly believe that going to these places can easily encounter negative things and cause illness. Therefore, it is best to avoid these places on the Dragon Boat Festival, especially for children under one year old. The elderly believe that May is the “poisonous month” and disasters may occur, so there is a saying to “avoid noon” on the Dragon Boat Festival. Children are sent to their grandparents’ house to avoid disasters.
Not engaging in festive activities, not provoking the “Five Poisons,” and not eating Zongzi at the mother’s home.
As mentioned earlier, the Dragon Boat Festival is a day to commemorate ancestors and is solemn and serious. Therefore, it is not suitable for holding weddings, opening shops, celebrating birthdays, or starting new projects on this day. Instead of saying “Happy Dragon Boat Festival,” people should greet each other by saying “Wishing you a safe Dragon Boat Festival.”
The “Five Poisons” refer to scorpions, centipedes, spiders, toads, and snakes. It is believed that on the noon of the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, the high temperature combined with humidity will cause mosquitoes, insects, snakes, and scorpions to come out in large numbers. These “Five Poisons” are freshly emerged from their hiding places and have particularly potent venom. Children are advised not to provoke these poisonous creatures and should leave immediately if they encounter them.
On this day, married daughters should not eat Zongzi (sticky rice dumplings) at their mother’s home because once married, they belong to their husband’s family. If they eat Zongzi at their mother’s home, it is believed that they will bring the husband’s bad luck back and take away the good luck of the mother’s family, leading to their declining fortune. Therefore, it is advisable not to eat Zongzi at the mother’s home on this day. Although it may seem superstitious, it is not a big deal, but it’s better to believe it exists.
Things to do: Hang Artemisia and mugwort, hang Zhong Kui’s image, paste talismans to ward off evil, wear sachets with five-colored threads, and eat “Five Yellows.”
On the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, Artemisia and mugwort are sold in the market. They are bundled together with straw, and each bundle is priced at 5 yuan. Every household hangs them on their doors because it is believed that the aroma of mugwort is the strongest and contains the most mugwort oil on this day, which can drive away poison and evil spirits.
Zhong Kui is famous for his ability to ward off ghosts. According to legend, during the Tang Dynasty, Emperor Tang Minghuang was infected with a plague that couldn’t be cured. One night, he dreamt that someone captured the plague ghosts, and his condition improved afterward. When he asked who the person was, the answer was Zhong Kui. After waking up, Emperor Tang Minghuang had an image of Zhong Kui painted and displayed it in the hall to ward off evil. Since then, the image of Zhong Kui has been believed to have the power to drive away evil spirits. Therefore, around the Dragon Boat Festival, people also hang images of Zhong Kui in their living rooms for the purpose of protecting their homes from evil.
On the Dragon Boat Festival, adults wear five-colored threads and sachets on children to ward off evil. They also apply realgar wine on children’s bodies. The five-colored threads and sachets should be thrown into the river after a heavy rain following the Dragon Boat Festival. It is believed that doing so will ensure a safe and healthy year without disasters. Overall, the customs and taboos passed down by the older generation have both reasonable and superstitious aspects.
As for the food customs, apart from the well-known Zongzi, there is also the tradition of eating “Five Yellows.” The “Five Yellows” refer to five foods with the word “yellow” in their names: eel, cucumber, yellow croaker fish, egg yolk, and realgar wine. It is believed that eating these “Five Yellows” on the Dragon Boat Festival can suppress bad luck, boost energy, and bring well-being to the family.
Please note that this translation is provided to the best of my ability, and some cultural nuances may be lost in the process.
Dragon Boat Festival holiday
The Dragon Boat Festival is a three-day holiday, including the actual festival day. The holiday dates for the Dragon Boat Festival are three days before and after the lunar calendar date of the festival. During these three days, Chinese people typically engage in activities such as traveling, visiting family, and socializing. The holiday arrangement is as follows:
Day 1: Preparations and customs related to the festival, such as hanging up Artemisia and mugwort, pasting talismans, and wearing sachets.
Day 2: The actual festival day, which involves dragon boat races, eating Zongzi (sticky rice dumplings), and other traditional activities.
Day 3: Continuation of festival-related customs and activities, as well as visiting relatives and friends.
The Dragon Boat Festival is a necessity for strengthening spiritual civilization. It serves the purpose of expanding domestic demand and promoting economic development. Additionally, it is an important manifestation of upholding cultural confidence.
dragon boat festival and Taoism
In Chinese tradition, the fifth day of the fifth lunar month is known as the Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival. Interestingly, the same day is also observed as the “Di La” day in Taoism, which involves the worship of “Di La.” This custom is considered one of the origins of the Dragon Boat Festival customs. “La” is an ancient sacrificial ritual of the Han ethnic group that existed before the Qin Dynasty. Taoism divides the year into five “La” days, and the fifth day of the fifth month is called “Di La.” On this day, people can express gratitude, seek forgiveness, request changes in official positions, and offer sacrifices to their ancestors.
For a considerable period in history, Taoism gradually became deeply integrated into the lives of the Chinese people. Therefore, the worship activities of “Di La” on the fifth day of the fifth month naturally became part of the Dragon Boat Festival customs and an important component.
The saying “On the fifth day of May, Zhang Tian Shi rides on a tiger made of Artemisia. Red mouth reaches the blue sky, all creatures return to the underworld” vividly depicts the image of Zhang Tian Shi driving away demons and seeking peace for the people during the Dragon Boat Festival. This reveals the long-standing connection between Zhang Tian Shi and the Dragon Boat Festival in the hearts of the people. Zhang Tian Shi refers to Zhang Dao Ling, the founder of Taoism and the founder of the Five Pecks of Rice sect. He is revered as the Ancestor Celestial Master, the highest ranking figure in the Tai Xuan lineage of Taoism, and the Heavenly Lord who eliminates demons and protects the Tao.
Taoism plays an important role in the Dragon Boat Festival. From its main aspects, it mainly influences the festival from the perspective of warding off evil and toxins. The various customs and activities of the Dragon Boat Festival can generally be divided into three parts: hygiene activities related to collecting herbs and warding off diseases, religious activities of warding off evil and toxins, and recreational activities such as dragon boat races. The warding off evil and toxins activities include tying silk threads, pasting Taoist talismans, hanging Artemisia tigers and calamus, and drinking realgar wine.
Tying colorful silk threads, praying for favorable weather
Ancient people believed that the occurrence of prevalent diseases was not only due to the noxious Qi of the four seasons but primarily caused by the influence of ghosts and spirits. Tying colorful silk threads around the arm during the Dragon Boat Festival was considered a method to dispel these influences. According to the “Miscellaneous Writings on Customs and Etiquette,” it is said that “On the fifth day of the fifth month, tying colorful silk threads around the arm can ward off soldiers and ghosts, preventing people from falling ill to plagues.” These colorful silk threads are also known as longevity threads or life-prolonging threads. The colors include blue, red, yellow, white, and black, determined based on the concept of Yin and Yang and the Five Elements. Ancient people believed that blue, yellow, white, red, and black represented the Five Elements of metal, wood, water, fire, and earth, respectively. The Five Elements complement and interact with each other in a continuous cycle, sustaining life. As long as the Five Elements are complete, all poisons and evil spirits will keep their distance. Thus, wearing colorful silk threads can ward off evil, prolong life, and in Taoist practices, the five-colored flags are also used based on this principle.
Today, as Dragon Boat Festival has become a national statutory holiday, wearing colorful strings has become both a tradition and a fashion statement. Many places in China have the custom of wearing colorful strings. By wearing these strings, one can accumulate all the ill fortune for the coming year. Then, at the first rain after midnight on the Dragon Boat Festival, the colored strings are thrown into sewers, crossroads, or shallow waters, symbolically discarding the ill fortune and ushering in favorable weather for the coming year.
Drinking realgar wine, warding off hundreds of poisons
The influence of Taoism on the customs of the Dragon Boat Festival is also reflected in the tradition of drinking realgar wine. Since the Tang Dynasty, it has been a custom in most regions of China to drink realgar wine during the Dragon Boat Festival. According to the “Yan Jing Sui Shi Ji,” in May, “from the first day of the month, realgar wine is taken out and exposed to the sun. It is then applied to the foreheads and the areas between the nose and ears of young children to ward off poisons.” Especially after the spread of the story “Legend of the White Snake,” realgar wine became even more well-known among the people.
In the “Tu Jing Yan Yi Ben Cao,” realgar is classified as a superior item in the “Gemstone” category, believed to possess the effects of killing sperm, evil spirits, malevolent energy, insects, and toxins, as well as being superior to the five types of weapons. Regarding realgar wine, the “Shen Xian Jiu Lian Xiong Huang” in the “Dao Zang” states that after consumption, “the three worms in the abdomen will perish, the heart will open, the eyes will become clear, and a person will gain strength and power. They can enter water to repel dragons and enter mountains to repel tigers and wolves. They can enter the military to repel the five types of weapons.” It is the praise of realgar wine’s effectiveness by Taoism that has led to its significant value in folk traditions, gradually forming the custom of drinking realgar wine during the Dragon Boat Festival to ward off various poisons.
Taoist physicians believe that realgar is warm in nature, bitter and pungent in taste, and toxic. It is primarily used as an antidote and insecticide. When applied externally, it is effective in treating scabies, ringworm, and snake or insect bites. Ingesting it in small quantities can treat conditions such as epilepsy and ulceration. Even today, there is still the custom of drinking realgar wine during the Dragon Boat Festival in the Jiangnan region of China.
In Wang Zengqi’s “The Duck Eggs of the Dragon Boat Festival,” realgar wine is mentioned, stating, “Drinking realgar wine, mixing realgar with alcohol and drawing the character ‘王’ on the child’s forehead. This is a common practice in many places.”
In addition, during the Dragon Boat Festival, people wear scented sachets, which are also believed to have the effect of warding off evil and dispelling plagues. As for the tradition of dragon boat racing during the Dragon Boat Festival, in early times, it was believed among the people that it was to quickly send away the “plague” using dragon boats, and it cannot be separated from the purpose of dispelling plagues.
Artemisia, calamus, peach, willow, and mallow are plants believed by Taoism to have the power to ward off evil. In ancient times, on the Dragon Boat Festival, people would hang these plants on their doors, wear them on their heads, brew them into wine, make them into confections, steep them in water for bathing, or burn them indoors, all with the purpose of safeguarding people’s safety and health.
Ancient people would store and prepare medicines on the Dragon Boat Festival, and Taoist practitioners would also enjoy refining elixirs on this day. According to the Taoist “Zhao Xiu Tu,” it states, “On the fifth day of the fifth month, it is a time to continue life. On this day, one can request the Tao and welcome immortals, seeking longevity.” Thus, the custom of tying hundreds of threads, longevity threads, or life-prolonging threads on the arm on the Dragon Boat Festival has emerged.
It can be seen that whether it is tying colorful silk threads or hanging calamus and artemisia, pasting Taoist talismans, drinking realgar wine, etc., all stem from the motivation of warding off evil and dispelling poisons. To achieve this purpose, the influence of Taoism, which has been influenced by shamanic culture, cannot be ignored. Therefore, there is a deep connection between the Dragon Boat Festival and Taoism, and while we enjoy eating sticky rice dumplings and watching dragon boat races during the festival, we must not forget the original intention of the Dragon Boat Festival and the influence of Taoism on this holiday.
Dragon Boat Festival and Buddhism
In the lunar month of May, there is a fasting month called “Zhaimonth” in Chinese culture. Ancient people referred to the lunar May as the “evil month.” The beginning of May marks the start of Yin energy, which gradually strengthens and signifies the peak of Yang energy and the beginning of the transition between Yin and Yang.
On the fifth day of May, a transformation known as “Taiji or Not” takes place. Many people may experience the arrival of negative karma or unfavorable circumstances. Therefore, ancient people attached great importance to this transition. They would observe fasting and invite esteemed monks to pray for blessings, aiming to ward off evil, accumulate merits, practice restraint, and eliminate inauspicious energy.
From this, we can see that Buddhist practice is considered the most effective tool for ensuring peace and auspiciousness in our lives. Therefore, in Chinese Mahayana Buddhism, the lunar month of May is regarded as a month for cultivating the mind, nurturing one’s nature, and observing extended periods of fasting.
Firstly, some eminent monks born on the Dragon Boat Festival became significant figures in Buddhism. Children born on the fifth day of May were often abandoned. During the Han Dynasty, individuals like Wang Feng and Hu Guang, born on this day, narrowly escaped being abandoned. Parents would send children born on this day to become monks, and “Fayun Gong” of the Tang Dynasty is a well-known example.
Secondly, some Chan masters who passed away on the Dragon Boat Festival are mentioned in Buddhist scriptures. According to folklore, those born on the fifth day of May do not decompose after death. In Li Yanshou’s “Bei Shi – Biographies of the Royal Princes of Qi,” it is mentioned that Gaozhuo, the Prince of Nanyang during the Northern Qi Dynasty, was born on the fifth day of May. Although he was executed for his involvement in a rebellion, more than 400 days after his death, during a grand ceremony, his body was found to be “still retaining color and hair as if alive.” Therefore, Buddhist communities hold particular reverence for monks who pass away on the fifth day of May.
Thirdly, certain events that occurred on the Dragon Boat Festival are recorded in Buddhist scriptures. During the Tang Dynasty, many translated Buddhist scriptures commenced on the fifth day of May. The “Complete Tang Poetry” volume 916 mentions that the Sanskrit scholar Dharmaksema, a member of the Brahma caste from Northern Tianzhu, began translating the “Maharatnakuta Sutra of the Great Samadhi of Vajra Essence” and the “Yogacara Secret Mantra Mahavairocana Sutra” on the fifth day of May. If a Buddhist sutra is completed or sealed on this day, it is considered a significant event in Buddhism.
Buddhism also employs the fifth day of May for the practice of alchemy. It is believed that evil spirits are active on this day, and therefore, various techniques to repel them are employed. “Shiji Jiexie” records, “During the Han Dynasty, on the fifth day of May, they would prepare an owl dish to be presented to the officials. Because the owl is an evil bird, it is consumed on this day.” On this day, sorcerers would create magical potions: “On the fifth day of May, take toads for treating malignant sores; take eastward-traveling mole crickets for treating difficult childbirth.” Sorcery and medicine were also prepared on this day: “On the fifth day of May, gather a hundred species of insects, from snakes to lice, place them together in a container, and let them devour each other, with only one species surviving. If it’s a snake, it’s called a snake charm; if it’s a louse, it’s called a louse charm. They are used to harm people. By ingesting them, they enter the belly, devouring the internal organs of the person. When the person dies, the offspring will move into the house of the one who prepared the charm. If they refrain from killing others for three years, the charm’s defects will cease.” Similarly, Buddhist practitioners would also engage in alchemy and recite spells on this day.
Dragon Boat Festival and Confucianism
In Chinese traditional festivals, there are many holidays commemorating famous individuals, such as Cold Food Festival honoring Jie Zitui, Shangsi Festival honoring the Yellow Emperor, and Mazu Festival honoring Mazu.
However, these holidays are popular within specific regions, and the only one that is celebrated nationwide is the Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival.
A famous Tang poem goes: “Who first spoke of Duanwu on the day of the summer solstice? Throughout the ages, it is widely known as the festival of Qu Yuan.”
Qu Yuan, who cared deeply for the people, was framed by treacherous officials and faced the downfall of the Chu state. On the eve of its destruction, Qu Yuan chose to end his life by jumping into the Miluo River.
The people along the river were reluctant to let this loyal and righteous man die, and they raced in boats to save him. To prevent the fish and shrimp from harming his body, people threw rice wrapped in bamboo leaves into the river.
The Dragon Boat Festival commemorates Qu Yuan and also celebrates the selfless spirit of serving the country and the people.
Of course, there is another explanation for the origin of zongzi, a traditional food eaten during the festival.
After the harvest, people would first scatter grains on the mountains and into the rivers as an offering to nature.
This was a way of expressing gratitude.
People were thankful for the gifts of nature and for the earth that nourishes all things and sustains the people.
This sense of gratitude towards the earth and nature has influenced the Chinese people’s attachment to their homeland, their emphasis on family, and their contentment with their land. Coupled with Qu Yuan’s patriotic spirit, it gradually formed the Chinese people’s deep affection for their country and the world.
dragon boat festival and Yin Yang
The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival, is a traditional Chinese holiday that is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar, which usually falls in June. It has a rich history and cultural significance in China. One aspect related to the Dragon Boat Festival is the concept of Yin and Yang.
Yin and Yang are fundamental concepts in Chinese philosophy and represent the duality and interconnectedness of opposing forces in the universe. Yin is associated with darkness, femininity, passivity, and the moon, while Yang is associated with light, masculinity, activity, and the sun. The balance and harmonious interaction between Yin and Yang are believed to be essential for the well-being and harmony of individuals and the world.
In the context of the Dragon Boat Festival, Yin and Yang are often symbolized by the dragon and the sun. The dragon is considered a powerful and auspicious creature in Chinese culture, representing Yang energy, masculinity, and good fortune. Dragon boat races, a central activity during the festival, involve teams of paddlers rowing in long boats decorated like dragons. The races are not only a sport but also a way to summon the Yang energy, bring blessings, and ward off evil spirits.
The Dragon Boat Festival is also associated with various practices believed to protect against negative energies and ensure good health during the summer season. These practices include hanging up pouches filled with herbs to ward off evil spirits, wearing colorful silk threads to ward off diseases, and consuming sticky rice dumplings called zongzi, which are believed to have protective properties.
Overall, while the Dragon Boat Festival primarily commemorates the poet Qu Yuan and showcases Chinese traditions such as dragon boat races and zongzi, the underlying concept of Yin and Yang is deeply ingrained in Chinese culture and philosophy, influencing various aspects of life, including festivals and celebrations.
dragon boat festival Poetry and Prose
Dragon Boat Festival Proverbs
“The fragrance of zongzi fills the kitchen; the fragrance of mugwort permeates the house. Peach branches are inserted at the doorstep, and looking out, the wheat fields are yellow. Here is Duanwu, there is Duanwu, Duanwu is celebrated everywhere.” This nursery rhyme sings about the traditional Chinese festival, the Dragon Boat Festival.
During Qingming, we insert willow branches; during Duanwu, we insert mugwort. (Northern China)
The toad can’t escape the fifth day of the fifth month. (Beijing)
Without wearing mugwort on Duanwu, one dies and turns into a monster. (Northwest China)
At noon, drink water and take medicine for three years. (Southern China)
After drinking realgar wine, all illnesses are far away. (Shanxi)
It’s hard to buy a dry day on the fifth day of May. (Shanxi)
Without eating Duanwu zongzi, the winter clothes cannot be put away. After eating Duanwu zongzi, three more freezes are needed. (Shanghai Baoshan)
Duanwu Festival, hot weather; the five poisons awaken, and it’s restless. (Jiangsu and Zhejiang)
On Duanwu (the fifth), we pray to the bodhisattva; on the sixth, we release octopuses. (Jiangsu and Zhejiang)
On this auspicious day of the fifth, we wish to be together forever. (Jiangsu)
Spinning and spinning, the chrysanthemum garden, fried rice cakes, sticky rice balls. The Dragon Boat Festival is on the fifth day of the fifth month. Mommy asks me to go and watch the dragon boats. (Guangdong)
Without eating Duanwu zongzi, the bedding remains unsatisfyingly soft. Without eating Duanwu zongzi, the old clothes cannot be discarded. Without eating Duanwu zongzi, the old clothes cannot be discarded. Without eating Duanwu zongzi, the cold clothes cannot be stored. Without eating Duanwu zongzi, the cold clothes cannot be put away. After eating Duanwu zongzi, the cold clothes are neatly stored. Without eating Duanwu zongzi, the cold clothes cannot be sent away. Without eating Duanwu zongzi, the cold clothes cannot be stored. After eating Duanwu zongzi, it’s not enough for a hundred days before the wind flips again. (Guangdong)
dragon boat festival vs Day of the Dead
Dragon Boat Festival and Day of the Dead are two distinct cultural celebrations with their own unique traditions and significance. Let’s explore each of them:
Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival, is a traditional Chinese festival that takes place on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar, which usually falls in June. The festival has a history of over 2,000 years and commemorates the death of the Chinese poet and statesman Qu Yuan.
During the Dragon Boat Festival, people participate in various activities. The most notable one is the dragon boat races, where teams paddle in long, narrow boats to the beat of a drum. These races symbolize the search for Qu Yuan’s body in the river. Another tradition involves eating zongzi, which are sticky rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves. These dumplings are often filled with different ingredients like meat, beans, or nuts. The festival also includes the hanging of colorful pouches and the wearing of colorful silk threads to ward off evil spirits and promote good health.
On the other hand, Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is a Mexican holiday that focuses on honoring and remembering deceased loved ones. It is observed from October 31st to November 2nd and coincides with the Catholic All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Day of the Dead has indigenous origins but has blended with Catholicism over time.
During Day of the Dead, families create elaborate altars called “ofrendas” in their homes or at gravesites. These altars are decorated with marigold flowers, candles, photographs of the deceased, and their favorite foods and beverages. Families gather to celebrate and remember their loved ones, believing that during this time, the souls of the departed return to the earthly realm to visit their families. It is a festive occasion with music, dancing, parades, and the iconic sugar skulls and skeleton figurines.
While both Dragon Boat Festival and Day of the Dead involve commemoration and celebration, their cultural backgrounds, customs, and traditions are distinct. The Dragon Boat Festival is deeply rooted in Chinese history and mythology, with a focus on the story of Qu Yuan and the dragon boat races. Day of the Dead, on the other hand, is a Mexican holiday that blends indigenous beliefs with Catholicism and emphasizes the remembrance and celebration of deceased loved ones.
It’s important to respect and appreciate the cultural diversity and uniqueness of these celebrations, as they offer valuable insights into different cultural beliefs, practices, and ways of honoring the departed.
dragon boat festival vs Halloween
Dragon Boat Festival and Halloween are two distinct holidays celebrated in different cultures and with different customs. Let’s compare them:
Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival, is a traditional Chinese festival that takes place on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar, usually falling in June. It has a history of over 2,000 years and commemorates the death of the Chinese poet and statesman Qu Yuan. The festival features dragon boat races, where teams paddle in long, narrow boats, as well as the consumption of zongzi, sticky rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves.
Halloween, on the other hand, is a holiday primarily celebrated in Western countries, particularly in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. It occurs on October 31st and has its roots in ancient Celtic traditions. Halloween has evolved into a community-based celebration where people dress up in costumes, often depicting spooky or supernatural characters, and go door-to-door trick-or-treating, collecting candy. It is associated with the harvest season and the belief that on Halloween night, spirits and supernatural beings are more present.
Both Dragon Boat Festival and Halloween involve festivities and cultural traditions, but they have different origins and customs. Dragon Boat Festival is deeply rooted in Chinese history and mythology, focusing on the remembrance of Qu Yuan through dragon boat races and the consumption of zongzi. It is a celebration of community spirit and Chinese cultural heritage.
Halloween, on the other hand, has Celtic pagan roots, which later incorporated Christian and secular traditions. It is a more commercialized holiday, emphasizing costumes, decorations, and the act of trick-or-treating. Halloween is associated with supernatural themes, such as ghosts, witches, and monsters, and is often seen as a playful and lighthearted celebration.
In summary, Dragon Boat Festival and Halloween are distinct holidays celebrated in different cultures with unique customs. Dragon Boat Festival is a Chinese festival that honors Qu Yuan and includes dragon boat races and the consumption of zongzi. Halloween, on the other hand, is a Western holiday centered around costumes, trick-or-treating, and supernatural themes. Understanding and appreciating the cultural significance and traditions behind each holiday can enhance our appreciation for the diversity of celebrations around the world.
dragon boat festival vs Winter Solstice
Dragon Boat Festival and Winter Solstice are two different holidays celebrated in various cultures, each with its own significance and customs. Let’s explore them:
Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival, is a traditional Chinese festival that typically takes place on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar, which usually falls in June. The festival has a history of over 2,000 years and commemorates the death of the Chinese poet and statesman Qu Yuan. The festival is known for its dragon boat races, where teams paddle in long, narrow boats, and it also involves the consumption of zongzi, sticky rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves. The Dragon Boat Festival celebrates Chinese cultural heritage and promotes community spirit.
On the other hand, Winter Solstice is an astronomical event that marks the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. It occurs around December 21st and is observed in various cultures around the world, including but not limited to Chinese, European, and Native American cultures. Winter Solstice has symbolic significance as it represents the rebirth of light and the gradual return of longer days. Many cultures celebrate this occasion with rituals, feasts, and gatherings.
In Chinese culture, the Winter Solstice Festival, also known as Dongzhi Festival, is an important holiday. It is believed to be a time of balance and harmony, when Yin energy (represented by darkness and cold) begins to give way to Yang energy (represented by light and warmth). Families often gather to enjoy a meal together, particularly consuming foods such as tangyuan, which are glutinous rice balls symbolizing family togetherness.
While both Dragon Boat Festival and Winter Solstice hold cultural significance and involve traditional practices, they occur at different times of the year and have distinct origins. Dragon Boat Festival is a summer festival in China, commemorating Qu Yuan’s death, while Winter Solstice is a winter solstice celebration observed in various cultures, symbolizing the return of light.
Understanding and appreciating the customs and traditions associated with different holidays can provide insights into the cultural diversity and the ways in which various societies mark significant events throughout the year.
dragon boat festival vs Double Ninth Festival
Dragon Boat Festival and Double Ninth Festival are both traditional Chinese festivals celebrated on different dates and with distinct cultural significance. Let’s explore each of them:
Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival, is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar, which usually falls in June. It commemorates the death of the Chinese poet and statesman Qu Yuan. Dragon Boat Festival is known for its dragon boat races, where teams paddle in long, narrow boats to the beat of a drum. It is also customary to eat zongzi, sticky rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves, during this festival. Dragon Boat Festival serves as a way to honor Chinese cultural heritage, promote community spirit, and remember the legacy of Qu Yuan.
Double Ninth Festival, also called Chongyang Festival, is observed on the ninth day of the ninth month of the lunar calendar, typically in October. The festival has a long history and is associated with various traditions. One important aspect is the custom of climbing mountains, as the number “nine” is considered auspicious in Chinese culture. People ascend hills or mountains to enjoy the autumn scenery, appreciate nature, and pray for good health and fortune. Another tradition during the Double Ninth Festival is the consumption of chrysanthemum wine and cakes, as chrysanthemums are believed to have medicinal properties and can ward off evil spirits.
While both Dragon Boat Festival and Double Ninth Festival are Chinese festivals that celebrate cultural traditions, they are distinct in terms of their historical origins and the activities involved. Dragon Boat Festival primarily commemorates Qu Yuan’s death through dragon boat races and the consumption of zongzi. It takes place in summer and has a connection to water and mythology. Double Ninth Festival, on the other hand, is associated with the ninth month of the lunar calendar, the autumn season, and the customs of mountain climbing and chrysanthemum appreciation.
These festivals reflect the richness of Chinese culture and the importance placed on honoring historical figures, appreciating nature, and observing auspicious dates. Understanding the unique characteristics and customs of each festival enhances our knowledge of the diverse cultural traditions found throughout the world.
dragon boat festival vs Easter
Dragon Boat Festival and Easter are two different festivals celebrated in different cultures with distinct religious and cultural significance. Let’s explore each of them:
Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival, is a traditional Chinese festival that takes place on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar, usually falling in June. It has a history of over 2,000 years and commemorates the death of the Chinese poet and statesman Qu Yuan. The festival is known for its dragon boat races, where teams paddle in long, narrow boats, and it also involves the consumption of zongzi, sticky rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves. Dragon Boat Festival is deeply rooted in Chinese culture, mythology, and historical figures.
Easter, on the other hand, is a major Christian holiday celebrated worldwide, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Easter falls on different dates each year, based on the lunar calendar and ecclesiastical calculations. It is a significant event in the Christian faith, representing hope, new life, and redemption. Easter is observed through various religious customs, such as attending church services, participating in processions, and engaging in symbolic rituals like the Easter Vigil and the Easter egg hunt. Easter is celebrated by Christians of different denominations and holds religious and cultural importance in many countries.
While both Dragon Boat Festival and Easter are festive occasions, they have different origins, cultural contexts, and religious significance. Dragon Boat Festival is deeply rooted in Chinese mythology and history, emphasizing the remembrance of Qu Yuan and community activities like dragon boat races. Easter, on the other hand, is a Christian holiday centered around the resurrection of Jesus Christ, representing core theological beliefs and spiritual significance for Christians worldwide.
It’s important to understand and respect the diverse cultural and religious traditions celebrated globally, as they contribute to the rich tapestry of human heritage. Both Dragon Boat Festival and Easter offer insights into the unique customs, beliefs, and values of different cultures and religious practices.
dragon boat festival vs Dano Festival
Dragon Boat Festival and Dano Festival are two distinct cultural celebrations observed in different parts of Asia. Let’s explore each of them:
Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival, is a traditional Chinese festival that takes place on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar, typically falling in June. It commemorates the death of the Chinese poet and statesman Qu Yuan. Dragon Boat Festival is characterized by dragon boat races, where teams paddle in long, narrow boats to the beat of a drum. The festival also involves the consumption of zongzi, sticky rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves, and various other customs like hanging colorful pouches and wearing silk threads. Dragon Boat Festival is widely celebrated in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and among Chinese communities around the world.
Dano Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival in Korea, is a traditional Korean festival that takes place on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar, corresponding to Dragon Boat Festival in China. Dano Festival has its roots in ancient shamanistic practices and agricultural traditions. The festival is associated with warding off evil spirits and ensuring a bountiful harvest. During Dano Festival, people participate in various activities such as folk games, swinging on large swings, wrestlingmatches, and dancing. Traditional food like surichwi (rice cakes steamed on plantain leaves) and ssuk (herbs) are also consumed during the festival.
While Dragon Boat Festival and Dano Festival (Duanwu Festival in Korea) share a similar date and have some common elements, such as their association with the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar, they originate from different cultural contexts. Dragon Boat Festival is deeply rooted in Chinese history, mythology, and the commemoration of Qu Yuan, whereas Dano Festival has ancient Korean shamanistic and agricultural origins.
Understanding and appreciating the cultural diversity and unique traditions of festivals like Dragon Boat Festival and Dano Festival provide valuable insights into the distinct cultural heritage of different regions and contribute to a broader understanding of Asian cultures.
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