Happy Chinese Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Festival is one of the most important festivals in China, also called Duanwu Festival, occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month of Chinese Lunar Calendar. The exact date varies from year to year on the Solar calendar, this year it falls on 7th June, which is tomorrow. 

The Story

The best-known story about Dragon Boat Festival is to commemorate the death of the poet Qu Yuan (340BC – 278BC or so) of the ancient state of Chu during the Warring States period of the Zhou Dynasty. He was exiled because he opposed the king to ally with the increasingly powerful state of Qin, and during that time he wrote a lot of great poetries concerned about the destiny of his state Chu and his compatriots, some of which were even printed on the Mandarin teaching material nowadays in Chinese schools. Years later Qin captured the capital of Chu, Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River in despair.


Things We Do on Dragon Boat Festival

The festival has been marked by Dragon Boat races and eating Zong Zi(Sticky Rice Dumplings). It is said that the local people, who admired Qu Yuan, raced out in their boats to save him or at least retrieve his body. This is said to have been the origin of Dragon Boat races. In the current period, these races also demonstrate the virtues of cooperation and teamwork.

When Qu Yuan’s body could not be found, people dropped balls of sticky rice into the river so that the fish would eat them instead of Qu Yuan's body. This is said to be the origin of Zong Zi.

Zong Zi is made of sticky rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. In some provinces people make Zong Zi without any fillings and just dip white sugar.

Another tradition during Dragon Boat Festival is to hang healthy herbs(mostly wormwood)on the front door to clear the bad luck of the house. It was believed the herbs take the best effect on that day to remove disease and prevent pestilence, as well as avoid evil spirits.

Although the significance of the festival might be different with the past, it still gives the observer an opportunity to glimpse a part of the rich Chinese cultural heritage. The government, however, did not officially recognize Dragon Boat Festival as a public holiday until 2008. This year the public holiday is from 7th to 9th June.


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