Origin and Customs of the Dragon Boat Festival


The Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar, is one of the most important traditional festivals in China. The Dragon Boat Festival is also known as the "May Festival" or "Bathing Orchid Festival". In September 2009, UNESCO inscribed it as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage, making it the first festival in China to be selected as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage.

There are many legends about the origin of the Dragon Boat Festival, such as in honor of Qu Yuan throwing himself into the river, King Goujian training sailors, in honor of Wu Zixu throwing himself into the Qiantang River and Cao E saving her father, etc.. These sayings have been processed through the ages . Combined with the folklore activities of the Dragon Boat Festival, a festival of the Chinese nation has been formed.

The Dragon Boat Festival is one of the four traditional festivals of the Chinese people, and there are many customs handed down from ancient times. To this day, the Dragon Boat Festival customs are diverse around the country, and there are subtle differences due to geographical differences.


Eat Zongzi

Zongzi is the main character for the Dragon Boat Festival.  Whether it is sweet or savory, zongzi is a favorite delicacy. Eating zongzi is a must for the ritual of the Dragon Boat Festival. Zongzi is not only delicious, but also contains a deep historical deposit. Legend has it that after Qu Yuan threw himself into the river, people threw rice in bamboo tubes into the river so that the fish and shrimp would not damage his body. Later, this food gradually evolved into today's zongzi.

Wear a Sachet

Wearing a sachet is a traditional custom of the Dragon Boat Festival. It has the meaning of warding off evil and driving away the plague. The sachet is often filled with a number of aromatic TCM. So that it can refresh the mind, invigorate the spirit and prevent plague.

Hang Mugwort

Folklore has a saying that "Hang willows in Qingming and mugwort in the Dragon Boat Festival". Early in the morning of the Dragon Boat Festival, people will hang mugwort or calamus on the door to ward off evil spirits and demons. In addition to mugwort, people will also hang calamus and garlic. Mugwort, Calamus and Garlic are called "Three Friends of the Dragon Boat Festival", also known as "three weapons". They are symbols of warding off evil and avoiding disasters.

Dragon Boat Racing

Dragon boat racing is a relatively common Dragon Boat custom in southern watery areas. In addition to the speed of the race, there are also a variety of fancy paddling performances. Dragon boat racing custom was originated in the State of Yue during the Spring and Autumn Period. It was said that Goujian trained his navy here.

Tie Colorful Threads

Early in the morning of the Dragon Boat Festival, adults will tie five-color threads on the wrists, ankles and necks of children. The five colors represent good luck and are meant to ward off evil spirits and disasters.

Drink Realgar Wine

Drinking realgar wine on the Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional custom from ancient times. In addition to drinking realgar wine, people also use the wine to paint children's ears and nose and navel to drive away poisonous insects.

Bath in Herbal Water

Bathing in herbal water on Dragon Boat is an ancient custom recorded in "Da Dai Li". Close to the summer solstice, the weather is warm and there are many insects, so the ancients called this day "evil day". People used to bath in herb water to get rid of poison.