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Dragon Boat Festival What Is It ?

dragon boat festival what is it

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Dragon Boat Festival, also called Duanwu Festival, is a traditional Chinese festival commemorating the life and death of the famous Chinese poet Qu Yuan. The festival takes place on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar-solar calendar.

The Dragon Boat Festival is one of the four largest cultural celebrations in China. The other three are Chinese New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival and Qingming Festival. The Dragon Boat Festival is a holiday for the general Chinese population, schools and most businesses are closed. Let’s learn more about this famous dragon boat festival. ?

Dragon Boat Festival Origin

As with most Chinese festivals, the origins of the dragon boat festival have become blurred over the years. The most popular story tells that this festival commemorates the death of the former poet of Chu State, Qu Yuan (340-278 BC). He opposed an alliance between the State of Chu and the State of Qin. Banished for speaking out, he spent many years in isolation writing poetry. He eventually committed suicide by throwing himself into the Miluo River (Hunan Province) when he learned that the Qin State had overthrown the capital of the Chu State.

dragon boat festival origin qu yuan
Qu Yuan

The circumstances of Qu Yuan’s premature demise explains the history of two popular traditions: the consumption of Zongzi (sticky rice balls) and dragon boat races. When people learned that Qu Yuan had thrown himself into the river, they rowed their boats to save him (hence the dragon boat race). When they couldn’t find him, they threw sticky rice balls into the river so that the fish would eat them instead of Qu Yuan’s body. He will die on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.

Dragon Boat Festival Activities

Dragon Boat Festival is a festival where people eat rice dumplings (Zongzi), drink Realgar wine (Xionghuang) and race dragon boats. Other activities include hanging the portrait of Zhong Kui (a mythical guardian), hanging absinthe and calamus, long walks, writing spells and carrying bags of scented medicines.

Dragon Boat Racing

dragon boat racing

Dragon boats are so named because the bow and stern of the boat have been shaped in the image of the traditional Chinese dragon. The objective of the dragon boat race is simple, just reach the destination point before the others. A team member sits at the front of the boat and beats a drum. His goal is to boost the team’s morale and make sure the rowers are in sync. The event is now international, with events in Japan, Vietnam, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Eating Zongzi

Eating Zongzi

The Zongzi is a pyramid-shaped sticky rice dumpling wrapped in reed leaves. It is garnished with different flavors. In northern China, people prefer jujubes as a filling, while in the south they prefer sweet bean paste, fresh meat or egg yolk. Nowadays, Zongzi has already become a common food, which can be easily found in supermarkets and grocery stores. However, some families still keep the tradition of making Zongzi on the day of the festival.

Hanging Chinese Mugwort And Calamus

Hanging Chinese Mugwort And Calamus

It is said that hanging leaves of Artemisia argyi (Chinese mugwort) on the door can protect people living inside from disease. Calamus leaves look like swords, they are hung to ward off evil spirits. The dragon boat festival takes place during the hot summer months, which encourages the proliferation of germs, parasites and poisonous animals. Both wormwood and calamus give off a special scent that purifies the air, chasing away mosquitoes and insects, helping people to stay away from diseases and epidemics.

Chinese Perfume Sachet

chinese perfume sachet

This custom has the same purpose as the hanging calamus and mugwort, as the sachets are always filled with Chinese medicinal plants that can repel parasites and other poisonous animals. Today, this practice is more popular with children and the sachets are made in different forms, including the traditional Zongzi pattern, animals, a gourd, a pumpkin and flowers.

Zhong Kui Painting

zhong kui painting

Zhong Kui was a very ugly character who was in charge of driving away evil spirits. During the festival, people stick his portrait on their door or hang it in one of the rooms of their homes to protect their house.

All these activities and games, such as making an egg stand at noon, were considered by the elders as an effective way to fight disease, evil, while promoting health and well-being. People also sometimes wore talismans to defend themselves against evil spirits. In the Republic of China, the festival was also celebrated as “Poets’ Day” in honor of Qu Yuan, who is known as the first poet of China.

Why Dragon Boat Festival Celebrated

In addition to its memorial significance, the Dragon Boat Festival has a real purpose. Originally, the festival took place near the summer solstice, when parasites, poisonous animals and germs begin to become more active. So people took steps to prevent the spread of disease and epidemics. Evil spirits were also added to the list of things to avoid. Many Chinese ancestral customs have been passed down to the present day.

Why Dragon Boat Festival Celebrated

Dragon Boat Festival Schedule

The Dragon Boat Festival is based on the lunar calendar, so the date varies from year to year on the Gregorian calendar. The dragon boat festival is a history of more than 2000 years and customs passed on from generation to generation. This celebration leads to a 3-day vacation. Here are the future dates of the Dragon Boat Festival:

– 2021 Monday June 14th
– 2022 Friday, June 3
– 2023 Thursday, June 22nd
– 2024 Monday, June 10
– 2025 Saturday, May 31

Where To Watch Dragon Boat Races

Dragon Boat Racing has become an essential competitive sport. Many places in China organize dragon boat races during the festival. Here are the four most solemn places if you want to attend the Dragon Boat Festival in China.

Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival: Victoria Harbor, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Yueyang Dragon Boat Festival: Yueyang Prefecture, Hunan Province
– Dragon Boat Festival of the Miao ethnic group: Autonomous Prefecture of Qiandongnan Miao and Dong, Guizhou Province
Hangzhou Dragon Boat Festival: Xixi Wetlands National Park, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province

Where to Watch Dragon Boat Races

Dragon Boat Festival Cultural Heritage

We have just learned more about the dragon boat festival, a celebration that has spread internationally. Beyond the cultural beliefs and customs that emanate from this festivity, the dragon boat festival allows people to forge ties. It strengthens solidarity within families and establishes a harmonious relationship between humanity and nature.

The dragon remains an omnipresent creature in the celebrations, this is due to its formidable virtues. Now it’s your turn to play, adopt this good mood and style through our dragon jackets. The creature embroidered on our clothes brings luck and prosperity to the wearer. Click on the image below to access our special selection! ?

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