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Dragon Boat Festival

By:Alice
Dragon Boat Festival, also known as the Dragon Festival, the Tian Zhong Festival and so on, is a traditional Chinese folk festival on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. Dragon Boat Festival, Spring Festival, Tomb Sweeping Day, Mid-Autumn Festival are known as the China's four traditional festivals. Dragon Boat Festival culture was so influential that some countries and regions in the world also have activities to celebrate it.


Origin of Dragon Boat Festival
There are many theories about its origin. Today, the best and most widely accepted one is that the Dragon Boat Festival is held to commemorate Qu Yuan (340-278 BC), a patriotic poet of the state of Chu during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC).


Qu Yuan
Qu Yuan was an upright, loyal and respected minister of the state of Chu during the Warring States Period. He always gave advice to the king to keep the state of Chu peaceful and prosperous. Most importantly, he insisted on maintaining their independence rather than giving in to the state of Qin. However, his integrity was not popular with the king of Chu and most corrupt officials. In the end, he was vilified by others and exiled by the monarch for treason. While in exile, he wrote many great poems about patriotism. Twenty-eight years later, Qin invaded and occupied the state of Chu. Seeing his country fall into chaos, he was filled with disappointment. In desperation, Qu Yuan threw himself into the Miluo River. After his death, people rowed on the river to try to find his body, but they couldn't find anything, so they threw glutinous rice into the Miluo River to stop the fish from eating his body. Therefore, we have today's dragon boat racing and eating Zongzi story.


Special Food for Dragon Boat Festival
Eating Zongzi

Zongzi, a pyramid-shaped (and sometimes rounded) dumpling made of glutinous rice, is the traditional food of the Dragon Boat Festival. It is wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves to give it a special flavor and tied with a rope, which varies greatly across China. Guangdong Zongzi tastes sweet with pork, walnuts, beans and other salty fillings. In Sichuan Province, they are usually served with sugar. Most Chinese still keep the tradition of eating Zongzi on the Dragon Boat Festival, but as far as popularity is concerned, Zongzi can be eaten all year round in China.


Eat Five Kinds of Yellow Foods
In southern China, it is the custom to eat "five yellows foods" on the Dragon Boat Festival. The foods refer to eel, yellow croaker, cucumber, salted duck egg and realgar wine (all yellow).  In the book Legend of the White Snake, lady white drinks the realgar wine, revealing the true shape of the snake's body. So, it is believed that the realgar wine can drive away poisonous insects such as snakes, scorpions and centipedes. During the Dragon Boat Festival, adults will drink realgar wine to ward off evil spirits and detoxify their bodies. According to Chinese folklore, noon is the best time to eat the five yellow foods to avoid poison and evil spirits.


Dragon Boat Festival Activities
Dragon Boat Racing

The dragon boat is named because its bow and stern are the traditional Chinese dragon shape. A member of the crew sat in the front of the boat and beat a drum to keep up morale and to make sure the rowers were consistent. Legend has it that the race originated from the idea of people rowing to save Qu Yuan after he drowned himself. It has now become a sporting event, commemorated not only in China but also in Japan, Vietnam and the UK.


Hang Calamus and Mugwort Plants
As the weather gets warmer, people are more susceptible to infections, so it's more practical to hang calamus and mugwort on doors during the Dragon Boat Festival, because their special smell can drive away the insects. By doing so, people also believe that it can drive away bad energy to some extent.


Wear A Five-Color Chain Bracelet
On the Dragon Boat Festival, children should wear five-color chain bracelets on their wrists to keep them healthy and safe, and throw them away when it rains or showers for the first time after the festival to relieve the  discomfort.

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