The Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional public holiday that commemorates the life and death of the famous Chinese scholar Qu Yuan. The festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month on the Chinese lunisolar calendar.
|Dragon Boat Festival 2023 Date|
|2019||07. Jun 2019|
|2020||25. Jun 2020|
|2021||14. Jun 2021|
|2022||03. Jun 2022|
|2023||22. Jun 2023|
This festival is a celebration where many eat rice dumplings, drink wine and race dragon boats. Other traditional activities include hanging icons of Zhong Kui (Chinese mythic figure), taking long walks and wearing perfumed medicine bags.
Among Malaysian, Singaporean, and Taiwanese speakers, the festival is also known as the “Fifth Month Festival,” the “Fifth Day Festival,” and the “Dumpling Festival.”
History of the Dragon Boat Festival
The fifth lunar month is traditionally considered as unlucky month. People believed that natural disasters and illnesses are more common during this month. To get rid of the misfortune, people would put flowers and garlic above the doors during this month.
Big ceremonies and performances developed from these practices in many areas, making the Dragon Boat Festival a day for getting rid of disease and bad luck. Decorating doors by hanging wormwood and calamus plants is an important ritual. People believe that doing so will drive evil spirits and diseases away.
In the early 20th Century the Dragon Boat Festival was observed from the first to the fifth days of the fifth month and known as the Festival of Five Poisonous Insects.
Dragon Boat Racing and Zongzi
Dragon boat racing has a rich history of ancient ceremonial and ritualistic traditions, which originated in southern central China more than 2500 years ago.
The legend starts with the story of Qu Yuan, who was a minister in one of the Warring State governments, Chu. He was slandered by jealous government officials and banished by king. Out of disappointment in the Chu monarch, he drowned himself into the Miluo river.
The common people rushed to the water and tried to recover his body. In commemoration of Qu Yuan, people hold dragon boat races yearly on the day of his death according to the legend.
The reason Chinese eat zongzi on this special day is because they are considered as a symbol of luck, as the pronunciation of zong is remarkably like the pronunciation of Zhong (中). This character has a positive connotation.