Top 5 Dragon Boat Festival Activities & 17 Regional Customs
Dragon boat racing is held in different places of China on every Dragon Boat Festival, as long as there is a river or a lake or it is a coastal region, especially in southern China. During the race, there is usually a drummer beating the drum to guide the paddlers in the team to row the dragon boat synchronously and a steersman leading the moving direction of the boat. The fastest team will be the winner, just like a running race on water. This Dragon Boat Festival activity enjoys higher popularity today not only in China but also in some neighbor countries, even in Europe. Also, it has developed from a Dragon Boat Festival custom to a sport event.
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2. Eating Zongzi
|Make Zongzi for Dragon Boat Festival|
Given the Dragon Boat Festival customs, eating the festival food, Zongzi, must never be forgotten. People would prepare Zongzi, glutinous rice wrapped by bamboo or reed leaves, before or during the festival and eat them on that day. The fillings are diverse. In north China, people add jujubes into rice traditionally; and in south, there are bean paste, meat, ham, yolks and other various fillings in Zongzi.
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3. Hanging Calamus and Wormwood
It is a very important Dragon Boat Festival activity to hang calamus and wormwood on the door frame to drive bad luck or diseases out. In the meantime, people would also make decorations with those herbs and wear them, which could give off aroma, and they believe this could prevent themselves from insects’ bite and do some good to their health.
4. Wearing Perfume Pouches
A perfumed pouch is usually a small cloth bag stuffed with vanilla, herbs, realgar and flower petals, and people may carry it or make it as decorations. The time when Dragon Boat Festival is coming, germs spread easily. Perfume pouches with favorable fragrance and special medical use would be used to kill germs and prevent diseases.
5. Hanging Portrait of Zhong Kui
Hanging the portrait of Zhong Kui is a Dragon Boat Festival custom. People hang Zhong Kui’s portrait for exorcism and to wish the safety of whole family. Zhong Kui, who catch Ghosts, was living in Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 AD). Giving a dream to the emperor of the day, he expelled ghosts from the imperial palace, so that he was respected and popularized with the order of the emperor.
Read more about Dragon Boat Festival Traditions - Top 15 Things to Do
Dragon Boat Festival Activities from 17 Regions in China
1. Hebei Province
People in Hebei cannot fetch water from the well on the festival day, for it is believed that water on that day may cause disease. Therefore, people would store water in advance. People there also believe eating cherries and mulberries on that day can avoid eating flies by mistake the whole year.
2. Shandong Province
How to celebrate Dragon Boat Festival in Shandong? The first thing after they wake up on that day is to drink a cup of wine, which could ward off the evil spirit and poisonous creatures.
3. Shanxi Province
People would hang the calamus and wormwood on their body to expel mosquito’s bite.
4. Shaanxi Province
Apart from eating Zongzi, hanging calamus and mugwort, people in north Shaanxi will tailor a bellyband embroidered with five poisonous creatures, namely snake, scorpion, spider, geckos and toad.
5. Gansu Province
People in some places of Gansu would pick the rose, pickle and preserve the petals in honey, which could be the best drink to relive the summer heat. In another place, people would cooperate with their fathers and brothers to invite their teachers for a big meal.
6. Sichuan Province
There is an interesting Dragon Boat Festival custom in this region. People put a bamboo made Taoist riding a tiger on a square table covered with red cloth and lift it for a parade on bamboo poles, while playing drums all the way.
7. Jiangsu Province
People in Jiading County would purchase and cook drumfish, and for Nanjing People, they would wash their eyes using the water with a bit realgar wine and two ancient coins in it, which is believed able to avoid eyes ailments.
8. Jiangxi Province
It is an old Dragon Boat Festival custom to take a herb water bath on that day, which can prevent the skin disease.
9. Zhejiang Province
Some people in the area have a Dragon Boat Festival tradition of visiting teachers, and herbalist doctors will also go to pick the herbs in the mountains.
10. Hubei Province
In addition to eating Zongzi and dragon boat racing, people in Hubei have Corolla Tattoo on their bodies, and beat gongs to dislodge diseases.
In Zigui, Qu Yuan’s hometown, there are some unique Dragon Boat Festival customs. They celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival on lunar May fifth, May fifteenth, and May twenty-fifth respectively. They would call back the spirit of Qu Yuan before dragon boat racing on lunar May fifth, and have a get-together party at the night of May twenty-fifth to entertain themselves as well as to celebrate harvest.
11. Hunan Province
The family with pregnant women would sacrifice wine and food in the front of dragon boat on that day, in order to pray for safe delivery of the baby. Besides, they make a grass boat, send it away on water to send diseases out of the family.
12. Guizhou Province
On the day, people in Guizhou, regardless of the old or the children, would wear their new clothes to take a one-day tour with food. When return at night, they have a bath with wormwoods picked in the fields at day time. It is believed that diseases would be washed out with the bath so that they would be healthy and safe the whole year.
13. Fujian Province
The daughter-in-law should send footwear, Zongzi and fans to the parents-in-law. People would make sauce with dried herbals as well.
14. Hainan Province
People in Hainan would wash their bodies in the water of where dragon boat racing was held, or have a herbal bath.
15. Guangdong Province
After the dragon boat race, Shenzhen people usually wash their face and hands with the water of that river or sea, which means washing away the misfortune.
16. Hong Kong
There would be a ceremony called Flying Paper Dragon before dragon boat racing to pray for success, and a dragon boat sacrifice to memorize ancestors after that. People would swim in the river where the dragon boat racing was held to wipe off bad luck. Of course, they eat Zongzi, too.
Read more about Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival (Tuen Ng Festival)
The most popular Dragon Boat Festival activity in Taiwan is dragon boat racing. What’s more, parents would make their children have a bath with the water that had boiled calamus and wormwood.
Read more about Dragon Boat Festival in Taiwan
Worldwide Dragon Boat Festival Activities
Asian countries, such as South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, and Malaysia, also celebrate Dragon Boat Festival with different activities and customs; some western countries such as America, Canada, Germany, hold dragon boat racing as well.
USA: New York, San Francisco, LA, Boston, Denver…
Canada: Toronto, Ottawa, Victoria, Vancouver…
Dragon Boat Festival Celebrated in Singapore
Dragon Boat Festival Celebration around the World