The Dragon Boat Festival is one of several Chinese national holidays. It spreads over a period of three days - this year starting on the 16th to the 18th. It is celebrated countrywide through traditional foods and customs and while many people will be looking forward to the extended weekend, you should also take notice of the customs involved in celebrating this annual festival.
Here are some of the things that are done to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival. But before that, lets cover some historical points surrounding the the festival itself. The usual English name for the holiday, "Dragon Boat Festival," directly translates into two alternative Chinese names for the holiday, 龍船節 (Lóngchuánjié) and 龍舟節 (Lóngzhōujié). Most commonly however 端午节 (Duānwǔ Jié).
There are several theories discussing the festival's origins. The most prevalent of those is in modern China holds that the festival commemorates the death of the poet and minister Qu Yuan (c. 340–278 BC) of the ancient state of Chu during the Warring state period of the Zhou Dynasty.
The festival follows a lunar calendar, and the dates therefore vary every year! They however always land on the weekend + Monday, offering an extended weekend to those who work.
Boat races were held predominantly in the south of China, however in recent years this practice has been practised internationally with many other Asian countries adopting the holiday and anywhere with a considerable Chinese community outside of Asia.
Eating Zongzi is also a custom observed in China during the Dragon festival. Sticky Rice Bundles (粽子 Zongzi /dzong-dzrr/) are made from sticky or glutinous rice and a filling, which is kneaded in. They are then wrapped in bamboo leaves in pillow or triangular-based pyramid shapes, and tied with plant stems. If you are careful the bamboo leaves can be folded back like a wrapper so that you don't get your fingers (too) sticky while eating them. They are often found sold at train and bus stations and make more of a meal than a snack. Glutinous rice is very filling.
On the fifth day of the fifth month on the Lunar Calendar, many Chinese people also hang plants and herbs in the doorways to ward off diseases and evil. These special plants also deter pests and bugs.
Have a great Dragon Boat Festival!
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