Dragon Boat Festival (Duanwu Festival)
The Duanwu Festival – also known as the Dragon Boat Festival or Tuen Ng – is a holiday that is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month of the traditional Chinese Lunar calendar. Since it is based on a lunar calendar, the date of its celebration varies from year to year on the Gregorian calendar but is usually within the first few weeks of June. This holiday is best known for the big Dragon Boats which are raced on this day, but the true purpose of it is to commemorate the life of Chinese scholar Chu Yuan – more commonly known as Qu Yuan.
Qu Yuan was born around 340 B.C. He was a poet and is best known for writing the poem, “Li Sao”and for his unwavering patriotism to China. In 278 BC, he committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River.
After his suicide, local residents raced out on the river to try and retrieve his body. This is believed to be the origin of the Dragon Boat races held on this day. After the residents failed to find his body, they then dropped balls made out of rice, so the fish would eat these instead of Qu Yuan’s body. This is believed to be the origin of Zongzi, a popular food eaten on this holiday.
From that moment on, the day was an important cultural holiday in China. However, it wasn’t until 2008 when it officially recognized as a traditional statutory holiday in this country.
Customs, Traditions And Celebrations
The main staple of the Duanwu Festival are the Dragon Boat races. It is also common for people to eat
Zongzi – rice dumplings that are stuffed glutinous rice and is wrapped in bamboo. It is also common to drink a wine called Xionghuangjiu.
Other customs that are performed on this day include wearing medicine bags and hanging mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) to ward off evil and disease. It is also believed that if you can balance an egg on its end at high noon on this day, then you will have luck throughout the year.