Chinese Traditional Festival – Dragon Boat Festival

//Chinese Traditional Festival – Dragon Boat Festival

On the fifth day of the fifth lunar month is the Dragon Boat Festival, which is one of the most important traditional festivals of the Chinese nation. The Dragon Boat Festival has many other names such as Duanyang Festival and Yulan Festival. Although its name varies from place to place in China, the customs of different places are basically the same. At this time of the year, every house hangs calamus. This plant looks like a sword. The Chinese believe that it can turn into a sharp sword when evil spirits try to harm people, and children usually wear bracelets which are made of colorful silk threads to ward off evil spirits. The bracelets are usually taken off and placed outdoors on the Chinese Valentine’s Day. It is said that magpies will take the colorful threads to build a rainbow bridge for the Cowherd and Weaver Girl . Besides,dragon boat racing, eating rice dumplings, and drinking realgar wine are some of the customs of Dragon Boat Festival.


There are many myths about the origin of the Dragon Boat Festival. The most widely spread one is that it was used to commemorate the great writer and patriotic poet, Qu Yuan of the Warring States Period. According to the “Continuation of Qi Harmony” written by Wu Jun in the Liang Dynasty: “The Chu doctor Qu Yuan was slandered, and one day (referring to the fifth day of the fifth lunar month) that he jumped in the Miluo River.” People were reluctant to bear his death, so they rushed to save him by rowing boats. This is the origin of the Chinese dragon boat race. Since then, on this day of each year, people will commemorate him by rowing dragon boats. The purpose of this activity is to disperse the fish in the river, to prevent Qu Yuan’s body from being eaten by the fish. In addition, people also boiled glutinous rice or steamed rice cake and put them into the river to prevent Qu Yuan’s body from being eaten. According to the legend, people first used bamboo tubes to hold glutinous rice, later, reed leaf were gradually used instead of bamboo tubes.


The taste of rice dumplings (zong zi) in the north and south of China is very different. The north prefers sweet rice dumplings. They usually put  dates, red beans, and peanuts in the rice dumplings, or eat them with granulated sugar. The south prefers salty rice dumplings, and they are used to wrap them with fresh meat, salted egg yolks, shiitake mushrooms, and then add soy sauce, salt and other seasonings to marinate them.

Another important custom of the Dragon Boat Festival is dragon boat races. Macau hosts the “Macao International Dragon Boat Race” every year, and the University of Macau will also send its own team to participate. On the day of the competition, local and international dragon boat players gathered in Nanwan Lake. The shouts of the audience, the loud gongs and drums and the flying colorful flags filled the peaceful Nanwan Lake with a lively atmosphere.

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