Dragon Boat Festival
The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival, is a traditional Chinese holiday that is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar. It is a time when people pay tribute to Qu Yuan, a famous poet and statesman from ancient China. The festival is marked by dragon boat races, eating sticky rice dumplings, and hanging up pouches of herbs to ward off evil spirits.
Legend of Qu Yuan
The Dragon Boat Festival is closely associated with the legend of Qu Yuan. Qu Yuan was a patriotic poet during the Warring States period in ancient China. He was deeply concerned about the state of his country and wrote many poems expressing his love for his homeland. However, his ideas were not accepted by the ruling class, and he was eventually exiled.
When Qu Yuan heard that his country had been invaded, he was overcome with grief and despair. In his sorrow, he threw himself into the Miluo River and drowned. The local people, who admired Qu Yuan, raced out on their boats to try and save him. They beat drums and splashed the water with their paddles to scare away the fish and evil spirits that might harm him. They also threw sticky rice dumplings into the river to prevent the fish from eating his body.
Dragon Boat Races
Dragon boat races are the highlight of the Dragon Boat Festival. These races are held in rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water. The boats are long and narrow, with a dragon's head at the front and a dragon's tail at the back. Each boat is manned by a team of rowers who paddle in unison to the beat of a drum. The races are not only a thrilling spectacle but also a way to pay tribute to Qu Yuan and the efforts made by the local people to save him.
Sticky Rice Dumplings
Eating sticky rice dumplings, also known as zongzi, is another important tradition during the Dragon Boat Festival. These pyramid-shaped dumplings are made of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves. They are usually filled with a variety of ingredients such as pork, beans, and nuts. The dumplings are then steamed or boiled for several hours, giving them a sticky and fragrant texture.
It is believed that eating zongzi during the Dragon Boat Festival can ward off evil spirits and protect against diseases. It is also a way to remember Qu Yuan and the sacrifices he made for his country. Families often gather together to make zongzi, sharing stories and passing down the tradition from one generation to the next.
Pouches of Herbs
Another custom during the Dragon Boat Festival is hanging up pouches of herbs. These pouches, known as xiong bao, are made of colorful silk cloth and filled with medicinal herbs. They are believed to have the power to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. People hang these pouches on their doors, windows, or wear them around their necks as a form of protection.
The herbs used in these pouches vary, but common ingredients include calamus, moxa, and wormwood. These herbs have a strong fragrance and are believed to have the ability to repel evil spirits. The act of hanging up pouches of herbs is a way to create a harmonious and auspicious atmosphere during the festival.
The Dragon Boat Festival is a time for Chinese people to celebrate their cultural heritage and pay tribute to Qu Yuan. It is a festival filled with dragon boat races, sticky rice dumplings, and hanging up pouches of herbs. Through these traditions, people come together to remember the past, honor their ancestors, and create a sense of unity and community.