Dragon Boat Festival


The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival, is a traditional Chinese holiday celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.

Origins of the Dragon Boat Festival

The origins of the Dragon Boat Festival are rooted in ancient Chinese traditions: The festival originally served as a day for ancient Chinese communities to honor and worship the dragon. During the Warring States period, the poet Qu Yuan from the state of Chu drowned himself in the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. Locals, admiring his patriotism, threw zongzi into the river to keep fish from eating his body. They also paddled out on boats, which is believed to be the origin of the dragon boat races. Some traditions also commemorate other historical figures.

Traditions and customs

Eat zongzi

Zongzi are sticky rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves. Originally, they were thrown into the river as offerings to prevent fish from eating Qu Yuan’s body. Over time, eating zongzi became a staple tradition during the festival.

Hang calamus and wormwood on doors

People calamus and wormwood on their doors and eaves. Both plants are traditional Chinese medicines with strong scents that repel mosquitoes and insects. Calamus leaves resemble swords, which were believed to ward off evil spirits. Some also carve calamus into small figures and wear them for good luck.

Dragon boat racing

Dragon boat races commemorate the search for Qu Yuan’s body. Ancient people paddled out on boats to scare away fish and keep Qu Yuan’s spirit safe.

Wear perfume pouches

People wear perfume pouches during the festival. These pouches are made of silk and filled with herbs, believed to protect against evil spirits and disease. They are also seen as symbols of good luck and health.

Tie five-color threads

Children wear five-color threads (green, red, white, black, and yellow) around their wrists, ankles, and necks. These threads symbolize protection and health. They are not to be cut or discarded casually but should be thrown into a river during the first summer rain or bath to carry away bad luck.

Understanding and participating in these traditions allows you to experience the rich cultural heritage of the Dragon Boat Festival and its significance in Chinese history and society.