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(Originally posted on June 25, 2020)
About Dragon Boat Festival
The Dragon Boat Festival (Duanwu Festival, Duānwǔ Jié, Double Fifth, Tuen Ng Jit) is a traditional holiday that commemorates the life and death of the famous Chinese scholar Qu Yuan (Chu Yuan). The festival occurs on the fifth day of the fifth month on the Chinese lunisolar calendar.
Events and observations associated with the holidays we list may be canceled or otherwise affected due to measures taken to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Please check with event organizers for details.
Is Dragon Boat Festival a Public Holiday?
Dragon Boat Festival is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.
What Do People Do?
The Dragon Boat Festival is a celebration where many eat rice dumplings (zongzi), drink realgar wine (xionghuangjiu), and race dragon boats. Other activities include hanging icons of Zhong Kui (a mythic guardian figure), hanging mugwort and calamus, taking long walks, writing spells and wearing perfumed medicine bags.
All of these activities and games such as making an egg stand at noon were regarded by the ancients as an effective way of preventing disease, evil, while promoting good health and well-being. People sometimes wear talismans to fend off evil spirits or they may hang the picture of Zhong Kui, a guardian against evil spirits, on the door of their homes.
In the Republic of China, the festival was also celebrated as "Poets' Day" in honor of Qu Yuan, who is known as China's first poet. Chinese citizens traditionally throw bamboo leaves filled with cooked rice into the water and it is also customary to eat tzungtzu and rice dumplings.
The festival was long marked as a cultural holiday in China. However, it wasn’t until 2008 that the Dragon Boat Festival was recognized as a traditional and statutory public holiday in the People's Republic of China.
Many believe that the Dragon Boat Festival originated in ancient China based on the suicide of the poet and statesman of the Chu kingdom, Qu Yuan in 278 BCE.
The festival commemorates the life and death of the famous Chinese scholar Qu Yuan, who was a loyal minister of the King of Chu in the third century BCE. Qu Yuan’s wisdom and intellectual ways antagonized other court officials, thus they accused him of false charges of conspiracy and was exiled by the king. During his exile, Qu Yuan composed many poems to express his anger and sorrow towards his sovereign and people.
Qu Yuan drowned himself by attaching a heavy stone to his chest and jumping into the Miluo River in 278 BCE at the age of 61. The people of Chu tried to save him believing that Qu Yuan was an honorable man; they searched desperately in their boats looking for Qu Yuan but were unable to save him. Every year the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated to commemorate this attempt at rescuing Qu Yuan.
The local people began the tradition of throwing sacrificial cooked rice into the river for Qu Yuan, while others believed that the rice would prevent the fishes in the river from eating Qu Yuan’s body. At first, the locals decided to make zongzi in hopes that it would sink into the river and reach Qu Yuan's body. However, the tradition of wrapping the rice in bamboo leaves to make zongzi began the following year.
A dragon boat is a human-powered boat or paddle boat that is traditionally made of teak wood to various designs and sizes. They usually have brightly decorated designs that range anywhere from 40 to 100 feet in length, with the front end shaped like open-mouthed dragons, and the back end with a scaly tail. The boat can have up to 80 rowers to power the boat, depending on the length. A sacred ceremony is performed before any competition in order to “bring the boat to life” by painting the eyes. The first team to grab a flag at the end of the course wins the race.
The zong zi is a glutinous rice ball with a filling and wrapped in corn leaves. The fillings can be egg, beans, dates, fruits, sweet potato, walnuts, mushrooms, meat, or a combination of them. They are generally steamed.
It is said that if you can balance a raw egg on its end at exactly noon on Double Fifth Day, the rest of the year will be lucky.
The hanging of calamus and moxa on the front door, the pasting up pictures of Chung Kuei, drinking hsiung huang wine and holding fragrant sachets are said to possess qualities for preventing evil and bringing peace. Another custom practiced in Taiwan is "fetching noon water," in which people draw well water on the afternoon of the festival in the belief that it will cure all illnesses.
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源于纪念屈原 据《史记》“屈原贾生列传”记载，屈原，是春秋时期楚怀王的大臣。他倡导举贤授能，富国强兵，力主联齐抗秦，遭到贵族子兰等人的强烈反对，屈原遭馋去职，被赶出都城，流放到沅、湘流域。他在流放中，写下了忧国忧民的《离骚》、《天问》、《九歌》等不朽诗篇，独具风貌，影响深远（因而，端午节也称诗人节）。公元前278年，秦军攻破楚国京都。屈原眼看自己的祖国被侵略，心如刀割，但是始终不忍舍弃自己的祖国，于五月五日，在写下了绝笔作《怀沙》之后，抱石投汨罗江身死，以自己的生命谱写了一曲壮丽的爱国主义乐章。 传说屈原死后，楚国百姓哀痛异常，纷纷涌到汨罗江边去凭吊屈原。渔夫们划起船只，在江上来回打捞他的真身。有位渔夫拿出为屈原准备的饭团、鸡蛋等食物，“扑通、扑通”地丢进江里，说是让鱼龙虾蟹吃饱了，就不会去咬屈大夫的身体了。人们见后纷纷仿效。一位老医师则拿来一坛雄黄酒倒进江里，说是要药晕蛟龙水兽，以免伤害屈大夫。后来为怕饭团为蛟龙所食，人们想出用楝树叶包饭，外缠彩丝，发展成棕子。 以后，在每年的五月初五，就有了龙舟竞渡、吃粽子、喝雄黄酒的风俗；以此来纪念爱国诗人屈原。 源于纪念伍子胥 端午节的第二个传说，在江浙一带流传很广，是纪念春秋时期（公元前770--前476年）的伍子胥。伍子胥名员，楚国人，父兄均为楚王所杀，后来子胥弃暗投明，奔向吴国，助吴伐楚，五战而入楚都郢城。当时楚平王已死，子胥掘墓鞭尸三百，以报杀父兄之仇。吴王阖庐死后，其子夫差继位，吴军士气高昂，百战百胜，越国大败，越王勾践请和，夫差许之。子胥建议，应彻底消灭越国，夫差不听，吴国大宰，受越国贿赂，谗言陷害子胥，夫差信之，赐子胥宝剑，子胥以此死。子胥本为忠良，视死如归，在死前对邻舍人说：“我死后，将我眼睛挖出悬挂在吴京之东门上，以看越国军队入城灭吴”，便自刎而死，夫差闻言大怒，令取子胥之尸体装在皮革里于五月五日投入大江，因此相传端午节亦为纪念伍子胥之日。
源于纪念孝女曹娥 端午节的第三个传说，是为纪念东汉（公元23--220年）孝女曹娥救父投江。曹娥是东汉上虞人，父亲溺于江中，数日不见尸体，当时孝女曹娥年仅十四岁，昼夜沿江号哭。过了十七天，在五月五日也投江，五日后抱出父尸。就此传为神话，继而相传至县府知事，令度尚为之立碑，让他的弟子邯郸淳作诔辞颂扬。 孝女曹娥之墓，在今浙江绍兴，后传曹娥碑为晋王义所书。后人为纪念曹娥的孝节，在曹娥投江之处兴建曹娥庙，她所居住的村镇改名为曹娥镇，曹娥殉父之处定名为曹娥江。