Dragon Boat Festival - Traditions and Customs
How do people celebrate Dragon Boat Festival in China? As one of the oldest and grandest traditional festivals in China, Dragon Boat Festival has many customs and traditions, and the most popular activities usually come from dragon boat racing, eating Zongzi, wearing perfume pouches, tying five-color silk threads and hanging mugwort leaves and calamus.
Originated from the Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC), Zongzi had really developed into a festival food during the Warring States Period (475 - 221 BC), when the great poet Qu Yuan committed his death by drowning himself in a river. He was a patriotic poet of the Chu State, and gave his life to the state rather than surrender to other kingdoms. To protect his body from becoming fish's dinner, people fed the water creatures with Zongzi. Since then, eating Zongzi has been kept as one of the most important customs. Nowadays, there is a great variety of Zongzi in different regions.
See more on festival foods.
Drinking Realgar Wine
Hanging Calamus and Wormwood
Wearing Perfume Pouches
|Zongzi & Perfume Pouch|
The perfumed pouches is usually a small cloth bag stuffed with vanilla, herbs, realgar and flower petals, and people from south China may carry it in belts or pockets. With favorable fragrance, the perfume pouch does not function like the perfume we use in present days, but has its special medical use. As the festival occurs on Chinese summer when the germs spread easily, so people use perfume pouches to sterilize themselves and prevent diseases.
Wearing a Five-color String Bracelet
Picking Herbs at Noon
Bathing in Herbs Waters
Customs in Different Regions
Hebei Province: People cannot fetch water from the well on that day, for it is believed that water on that day may cause disease. Therefore, people would store water in advance.
Shandong Province: The first thing after they wake up on Dragon Boat Festival is to drink a cup of wine, which could ward off the evil spirit and poisonous creatures.
Shanxi Province: People would hang the calamus and wormwood on their body to expel mosquito’s bite.
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.
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.
Gansu Province: In Jingning County, people would pick the rose, pickle and preserve the petals in honey, which could be the best drink to relive the summer heat.
Zhejiang Province: Some people in that area have a tradition of visiting teachers during the festival, and traditional pharmacist will also go to pick the herbs in the mountains.
Jiangxi Province: It is an old customs to take a herb water bath on that day, which can prevent the skin disease.
Guangdong Province: After the dragon boat race, Shenzhen people usually wash their face and hands with the water that of the river or sea, which means washing away the misfortune.
Dragon Boat Festival Facts
Origin & History