Beijing Dragon Boat Festival Customary Activities


The Dragon Boat Festival is a major traditional holiday in China, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar each year. It is a time for people to worship their ancestors, pray for blessings, ward off evil spirits, and celebrate with various activities. While the festival customs are diverse and complex, they can be broadly divided into two categories: one is aimed at avoiding disasters and warding off evil spirits, and the other is centered around sacrificial offerings. This includes offerings to the Dragon Totem, as well as offerings to specific historical figures.

Zongzi, a traditional Chinese food made of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves, has a long history dating back to the Spring and Autumn period. Originally, it was used for ancestral worship and as an offering to spirits. During the Jin Dynasty, Zongzi became a popular food for the Dragon Boat Festival, and it has since become one of the most beloved traditional foods in Chinese culture. Over the centuries, Zongzi has spread far and wide, and it remains a cherished delicacy to this day.

Dragon boat racing is a cultural tradition that dates back to the Warring States period in China. Originally, dragon boat racing was a semi-religious, semi-entertainment program during festivals. The earliest record of the Dragon Boat Race can be found in Fudoki, a book written by Zhou Chu in the Jin Dynasty, which indicates that dragon boat racing had become a popular activity during that time.

Artemisia argyi, also known as mugwort, is an herb that symbolizes blessings and good health. It is often used for medicinal purposes, and people in China often place it at the entrance of their homes for protection and good fortune. During the Dragon Boat Festival, people traditionally prepare bundles of Artemisia argyi, banyan leaves, and calamus, which they tie with red paper and hang in doorways as a form of decoration and to ward off evil spirits.

Wearing a five-color thread, also known as the long-life strands in ancient times, is a traditional custom during the Dragon Boat Festival in China. Originally, the Dragon Boat Festival was a festival for young girls and was known as the Chinese Daughter's Day. On this day, people would use thick silk threads in red, green, yellow, white, and black colors, and roll them into a colorful rope. They would then tie the rope around the girl's arms and neck, as a way of warding off evil spirits and wishing for peace and prosperity.