Last Saturday, May 20, was one of the most traditional and important celebrations in China – the Dragon Boat Festival. Also known as Duanwu Festival, this holiday falls on the 5th day of the 5th month each year according to Chinese Lunar Calendar.
What is Dragon Boat Festival?
Dragon Boat Festival is a folk festival held for more than 2000 years, commemorating the patriotic poet “Qu Yuan”, who drowned himself into the river. The legend says that people were in great distress on hearing his death. Fishermen tried to search for his body by paddling out on boats down the river, while others threw food like eggs and rice into the river to attract fish from destroying his body.
These traditions and customs are continued today as an act of showing people’s respect for him.
Below are the four things people do on Dragon Boat Festival day.
Dragon Boat Racing is one of the most important events during this festival. Wooden boats are shaped and decorated like Chinese dragon. They are generally 30-50 meters long and require around 50 people to paddle. One team member sits at the front of the boat beating a drum in order to maintain morale and ensure that the rowers keep up with the pace of one another. It is said that the winning team will bring harvest and happy life to their village.
These Rice Dumplings are no ordinary lumps of rice. They are made from a particular kind of glutinous rice, with various fillings inside, such as egg yolks, meat, sausages, beans, dates or nuts, etc. Most families wrap these rice dumplings into a triangular or rectangular shape with bamboo leaves.
Realgar wine is a Chinese alcoholic drink made from fermented cereals and powdered realgar. In ancient times, realgar was considered to be an antidote for all poisons and people used to believe that drinking it drives diseases and evils away.
Before the festival, parents would prepare perfume pouches for their children. It is a kind of small pouch made from colourful silk cloth stringed with five-coloured silk thread. During the Festival, perfume pouches are hung around kids’ necks or tied to the front of a garment as an ornament.