Another name of the dragon boat festival is called Duanwu festival
Duanwu festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month June 14, 2021. “Duan” means “beginning” and “wu” is synonymous with the figure 5. It is an important traditional festival of China.
Duanwu (Chinese: 端午; pinyin: duānwǔ), as the festival is called in Mandarin Chinese, literally means wǔ (Chinese: 五; pinyin: wǔ) meaning “five”. Hence Duanwu, the “festival on the fifth day of the fifth month”.
ON this day about 2300 years ago, the great Chinese poet Qu Yuan jumped into the Milo river and committed suicide. Ever since then, as the legend goes, on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month of every year, people would make zongzi and row dragon boats to commemorate Qu Yuan. Ages later, these commemoration activities gradually led to the celebration of Duanwu Festival.
Dragon boat racing has a rich history of ancient ceremonial and ritualistic traditions
Dragon boat racing has a rich history of ancient ceremonial and ritualistic traditions, which originated in southern central China more than 2500 years ago. The legend starts with the story of Qu Yuan, who was a minister in one of the Warring State governments, Chu. He was slandered by jealous government officials and banished by the king. Out of disappointment in the Chu monarch, he drowned himself into the Miluo River. The common people rushed to the water and tried to recover his body. In commemoration of Qu Yuan, people hold dragon boat races yearly on the day of his death according to the legend. They also scattered rice into the water to feed the fish, to prevent them from eating Qu Yuan’s body, which is one of the origins of zongzi, one Traditional Chinese Rice Dumpling.
The Dragon Boat Race and Zongzi Chinese Rice Dumpling
The Dragon Boat Race
One important events of the festival is the dragon boat race. Usually in the spring of Southern China, the rainfall is more frequent than in other months, making rivers brim with water. So this month naturally becomes the occasion for dragon boat races. On the day of the festival, dragon boats line up on the wide expanse of a river and begin to race hard against each other. The spectacular sight is full of exciting cheers. The dragon boat race marks the climax of festivities of the day.
Zongzi (Traditional Chinese Rice Dumpling)
A notable part of celebrating Dragon Boat Festival is making and eating zongzi with family members and friends. People traditionally wrap zongzi in leaves of reed, palm leaf, bamboo, to wrap rice and filling, forming a pyramid shape. The leaves also give a special fragrant flavor to the sticky rice and fillings. Choices of fillings vary depending on regions. Glutinous rice is usually used in making zongzi. Northern regions in China prefer sweet zongzi with bean paste, jujube, and nuts as fillings. Southern regions in China prefer savory zongzi, with a variety of fillings including marinated pork belly, sausage, and salted duck eggs.
Foods, Wine and Door Decorating
Food related to 5
‘Wu’ (午) in the name ‘Duanwu’ in Chinese has a similar pronunciation as the number 5 in multiple dialects, and thus many regions have traditions of eating food that is related to the number 5. For example, the Guangdong and Hong Kong regions have the tradition of having congee made from 5 different beans.
Realgar wine (Xiong Huang wine) is a Chinese alcoholic drink that is made from Chinese yellow wine dosed with powdered realgar, a yellow-orange arsenic sulfide mineral also known as “rice wine”. It is often used as a pesticide against mosquitoes and other biting insects during the hot summers, and as a common antidote against poison in ancient Asia.
Decorating doors by hanging wormwood
Decorating doors by hanging wormwood and calamus plants is an important ritual of the Dragon Boat Festival. People believe that doing so will drive evil spirits and diseases away. After Duanwu festival, the temperature would get higher; mosquitoes start to breed and people are apt to have outbreaks of different diseases. So they would clean their courtyards during Duanwu festival and hang over the lintels of their doors mugwort or calamus, which are two kinds of Chinese medicinal herbs that can drive mosquitoes away and prevent people from getting ill.