The Dragon Boat Festival (Duanwu)
The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival, is a traditional Chinese festival that is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar (June 23, 2023). It is one of the most important cultural and historical events in China, with a history of over 2,000 years.
The festival has its origins in the legend of Qu Yuan, a famous poet and minister in the Warring States period. Qu Yuan was exiled from his home state of Chu and spent many years traveling and writing poetry. When he learned that his homeland had been conquered by the neighboring state of Qin, he threw himself into the Miluo River in despair.
The local people raced their boats to try to save him, but were unsuccessful. In order to prevent the fish in the river from eating Qu Yuan's body, the people threw rice dumplings into the water. This event is said to have inspired the tradition of eating zongzi, glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves.
The festival is celebrated with dragon boat races, where teams of rowers compete in long, narrow boats decorated with dragon heads and tails. The races are accompanied by drumming and cheering, creating a festive atmosphere. In addition to the races, the festival is also marked by the eating of zongzi, and hanging fragrant herbs to ward off evil spirits.
The Dragon Boat Festival is recognized as a national holiday and has been listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. The festival not only celebrates the life and legacy of Qu Yuan, but also promotes unity, harmony, and teamwork. The dragon boat races, in particular, have become an important symbol of these values, as teams of rowers work together to propel their boats forward.
In addition to its cultural significance, the festival also has health benefits. Eating zongzi is believed to promote digestion and ward off illness, while drinking realgar wine is thought to repel insects and purify the body.
—By Steven Luo