The Dragon Boat Festival, the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, has had a history of more than 2,000 years. It is usually in June in the Gregorian calendar.
Legend of Qu Yuan
Dragon Boat Racing:
Dragon boat racing is an indispensable part of the festival, held all over the country. As the gun is fired, people will see racers in dragon-shaped canoes pulling the oars harmoniously and hurriedly, accompanied by rapid drums, speeding toward their destination. Folk tales say the game originates from the activities of seeking Qu Yuan's body, but experts, after painstaking and meticulous research, conclude that dragon boat racing is a semi-religious, semi-entertaining program from the Warring States Period (475-221 BC). In the following thousands of years, the game spread to Japan, Vietnam and Britain as well as China's Taiwan and Hong Kong. Now dragon boat racing has developed into an aquatic sports item which features both Chinese tradition and modern sporting spirit. In 1980, it was listed into the state sports competition programs and has since been held every year. The award is called "Qu Yuan Cup."
Dragon Boat Racing:
Zongzi is an essential food of the Dragon Boat Festival. It is said that people ate them in the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC). In early times, it was only glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in reed or other plant leaves and tied with colored thread, but now the fillings are more diversified, including jujube and bean paste, fresh meat, and ham and egg yolk. If time permits, people will soak glutinous rice, wash reed leaves and wrap up zongzi themselves. Otherwise, they will go to shops to buy whatever stuff they want. The custom of eating zongzi is now popular in North and South Korea, Japan and Southeast Asian nations.
On Dragon Boat Festival, parents also need to dress their children up with a perfume pouch. They first sew little bags with colorful silk cloth, then fill the bags with perfumes or herbal medicines, and finally string them with silk threads. The perfume pouch will be hung around the neck or tied to the front of a garment as an ornament. They are said to be able to ward off evil.
Wearing a Perfume Pouch and Tying Five-color Silk Thread:
According to folklore, wearing the perfume pouch protects children from evil. So on this day, children decorate their clothes with diversely fragranced pouches. It is a kind of small pouch made of the colorful silk cloth stringed with five-color silk thread. Another custom is to tie five-color silk tread to a child's wrists, ankles, and around their neck. Five-color thread holds special significance in that it is thought to contain magical and healing properties. Children are not permitted to speak while their parents tie the five-color thread for them, neither are they allowed to remove it until the specified time. Only after the first summer rainfall can the children throw the thread into the river. This is thought to protect the children from plague and diseases.
Hanging Mugwort Leaves and Calamus