The origin and customs of the Dragon Boat Festival

       The Dragon Boat Festival is one of the ancient traditional festivals of the Chinese nation. Since the Warring States Period, the Dragon Boat Festival has existed for more than two thousand years. There are many theories about the origin of the Dragon Boat Festival, among which Qu Yuan’s theory has the most extensive influence.
The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as the Tianzhong Festival, originated from the worship of natural celestial phenomena and evolved from offering sacrifices to dragons in ancient times.


The Dragon Boat Festival, the Spring Festival, the Ching Ming Festival, and the Mid-Autumn Festival are also known as the four major traditional festivals in China. The Dragon Boat Festival culture has a wide influence in the world, and some countries and regions in the world also have activities to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival. In May 2006, the State Council of China included it in the first batch of national intangible cultural heritage lists; since 2008, it has been listed as a national legal holiday in China. In September 2009, UNESCO officially approved its inclusion in the “List of Representatives of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”, and the Dragon Boat Festival became China’s first festival to be selected as a world intangible cultural heritage.

Next, I will introduce you to the various customs of the Dragon Boat Festival.

1. Paint and drink realgar wine.

“On May 5th, Realgar Shochu celebrates the Dragon Boat Festival.” On this day, the folks cut the pu roots finely, sun-dried, mixed with a little realgar, and soaked in white wine. There are also people who use realgar alone to soak the wine, hence the name “Realgar wine”. People believe that realgar wine can drive away evil spirits and form the custom of drinking realgar wine during the Dragon Boat Festival.


2. Eat rice dumplings.

(1) The implied meaning of asking for a child: During the Dragon Boat Festival, people will give each other Jiuzi Zong, which means asking for a child. Jiuzi Zongzi is mostly used as a gift to relatives and friends, because “Zongzi” is a homonym of “Neuzi”, and there is a folk custom of eating “Zongzi” to get a son. “Zongzi” is a homonym for “all sons”, which means people are prosperous.

(2) Achievement in fame: Because “Zong” and “Zhong” have similar sounds, it means “get the top of the fame”. Usually the ancient imperial examinations are in the autumn, so during the Dragon Boat Festival, the person who wants to get the top of the fame and fame can eat rice dumplings, which means that they will pass the exam in one fell swoop.


3. Dragon boat racing.

It is to commemorate the great patriotic poet Qu Yuan. It is said that in the court, Qu Yuan and the ministers had different political opinions, which led to his exile. Later, when the Chu State fell, Qu Yuan jumped into the river to die for his country. People on the shore saw Qu Yuan thrown into the river and rescued him by boating, but he was nowhere to be seen. So people started a dragon boat race to commemorate him.


4. Colorful silk wraps around hands, feet and wrists.

The colorful rope originated from the concept of the five elements in ancient my country. The five colors “green, red, white, black, and yellow” that symbolize the five elements are regarded as auspicious colors. It evolved from the custom of ancient tattoos. On the Dragon Boat Festival, the world’s pure yang and righteousness are extremely strong. Using the world’s pure yang and righteousness to ward off evil is an important custom of the Dragon Boat Festival. Among many evil customs, tying arms with five-color silk thread was a very popular festival. Passed down to later generations, the five-color silk has developed into many kinds of beautiful ornaments, and the production has become more and more refined, becoming a unique folk art of the Dragon Boat Festival.


The above are a few of the most common customs of the Dragon Boat Festival. The customs of the Dragon Boat Festival are rich in content. These festivals revolve around the forms of offering sacrifices to the dragon, praying for blessings, and fighting disasters, entrusting people’s desire to welcome prosperity, ward off evil and eliminate disasters. The Dragon Boat Festival has many customs, various forms, rich content, lively and festive. The Dragon Boat Festival has mixed a variety of folk customs in the historical development and evolution. There are differences in custom content or details across the country due to different regions and cultures.

Chinese culture has a long history, extensive and profound. Many ancient poets describe the festive atmosphere of the Dragon Boat Festival. Since ancient times, the Dragon Boat Festival has been a festive day for eating rice dumplings and grilling dragon boats. The lively dragon boat performances and joyous food banquets during the Dragon Boat Festival in ancient times are all manifestations of the festival.

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