China’s Dragon Boat Festival, or Duanwu, will fall on June 2nd this year. Also called Double Fifth Festival, the festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar.
It is one of the oldest festivals, not only in China but also throughout the world, with a history of more than 2,000 years.
The Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the death of Qu Yuan, a patriot poet during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), who committed suicide by flinging himself into the Miluo River in Hunan province after his mother kingdom fell into enemy rule.
Since then, the fifth day of the fifth month on the lunar calendar is celebrated as the Dragon Boat Festival. People hold boat races and prepare Zongzi in memory of Qu's righteousness and his beautiful poems.
Most Chinese festivals are tied to a particular food, and Dragon Boat Festival is no exception. A very popular dish during Dragon Boat Festival is Zongzi. This tasty dish consists of rice dumplings with meat, peanuts, egg yolks or other fillings wrapped in bamboo leaves. The tradition of Zongzi is meant to remind us of village fishermen scattering rice across the water of the Mi Luo River in order to appease the river dragons so that they would not devour Qu Yuan.
Dragon Boat Festival usually falls in June. It is said that you will be lucky in the coming year if you can balance an egg upright during Dragon Boat Festival. The egg balancing competition will be held at noon in many places.
Hanging auspicious leaves
The fifth lunar month is marked as a "poisonous" month in the Chinese farmer's calendar. This is because insects and pests are active during this summer month and people are more prone to catch infectious diseases. During Dragon Boat Festival, Chinese put mugwort leaves and calamus on the doors or windows to repel insects, flies, fleas and moths from the house. Those leaves have curative properties and can prevent an epidemic.
Wearing scented sachets
On Dragon Boat Festival, children normally wear scented sachets to ward off evil. It is usually wrapped in a silk cloth and sometimes embroidered with exquisite patterns. Multicolor silk threads are attached to the sachet as tassels, making the sachet more appealing. In some areas of China, a scented sachet is also used as a love token between young lovers.
Dragon boat race
At the center of the festival are the dragon boat races. Competing teams drive their colorful dragon boats forward to the rhythm of beating drums. These exciting races were inspired by the villager's valiant attempts to rescue Chu Yuan from the Mi Lo River. This tradition has remained unbroken for centuries.
Hanging the image of Zhong Kui
Zhong Kui is a famous exorcist. His picture, a fierce-looking male brandishing a magic sword, used to be hung up in Chinese houses in order to scare away evil spirits and demons, especially during Dragon Boat Festival.