The Dragon Boat Festival (simplified Chinese: 端午节; traditional Chinese: 端午節) is a traditional Chinese holiday which occurs on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar, which corresponds to late May or June in the Gregorian calendar.
The English language name for the holiday is Dragon Boat Festival, used as the official English translation of the holiday by the People’s Republic of China. It is also referred to in some English sources as Double Fifth Festival which alludes to the date as in the original Chinese name.
Chinese names by region
Duanwu (Chinese: 端午; pinyin: duānwǔ), as the festival is called in Mandarin Chinese, literally means “starting/opening horse”, i.e., the first “horse day” (according to the Chinese zodiac/Chinese calendar system) to occur on the month; however, despite the literal meaning being wǔ, “the [day of the] horse in the animal cycle”, this character has also been interchangeably construed as wǔ (Chinese: 五; pinyin: wǔ) meaning “five”. Hence Duanwu, the “festival on the fifth day of the fifth month”.
The Mandarin Chinese name of the festival is “端午節” (simplified Chinese: 端午节; traditional Chinese: 端午節; pinyin: Duānwǔjié; Wade–Giles: Tuan Wu chieh) in China and Taiwan, and “Tuen Ng Festival” for Hong Kong, Macao, Malaysia and Singapore.
It is pronounced variously in different Chinese dialects. In Cantonese, it is romanized as Tuen1 Ng5 Jit3 in Hong Kong and Tung1 Ng5 Jit3 in Macau. Hence the “Tuen Ng Festival” in Hong Kong Tun Ng (Festividade do Barco-Dragão in Portuguese) in Macao.
The fifth lunar month is considered an unlucky month. People believed that natural disasters and illnesses are common in the fifth month. To get rid of the misfortune, people would put calamus, Artemisia, pomegranate flowers, Chinese ixora and garlic above the doors on the fifth day of the fifth month. Since the shape of calamus forms like a sword and with the strong smell of the garlic, it is believed that they can remove the evil spirits.
Another explanation to the origin of the Dragon Boat Festival comes from before the Qin Dynasty (221–206 BC). The fifth month of the lunar calendar was regarded as a bad month and the fifth day of the month a bad day. Venomous animals were said to appear starting from the fifth day of the fifth month, such as snakes, centipedes, and scorpions; people also supposedly get sick easily after this day. Therefore, during the Dragon Boat Festival, people try to avoid this bad luck. For example, people may paste pictures of the five poisonous creatures on the wall and stick needles in them. People may also make paper cutouts of the five creatures and wrap them around the wrists of their children.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.
The story best known in modern China holds that the festival commemorates the death of the poet and minister Qu Yuan (c. 340–278 BC) of the ancient state of Chu during the Warring States period of the Zhou dynasty. A cadet member of the Chu royal house, Qu served in high offices. However, when the emperor decided to ally with the increasingly powerful state of Qin, Qu was banished for opposing the alliance and even accused of treason.During his exile, Qu Yuan wrote a great deal of poetry. Twenty-eight years later, Qin captured Ying, the Chu capital. In despair, Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River.
It is said that the local people, who admired him, raced out in their boats to save him, or at least retrieve his body. This is said to have been the origin of dragon boat races. When his body could not be found, they dropped balls of sticky rice into the river so that the fish would eat them instead of Qu Yuan’s body. This is said to be the origin of zongzi.
During World War II, Qu Yuan began to be treated in a nationalist way as “China’s first patriotic poet”. The view of Qu’s social idealism and unbending patriotism became canonical under the People’s Republic of China after 1949 Communist victory in the Chinese Civil War.
Despite the modern popularity of the Qu Yuan origin theory, in the former territory of the Kingdom of Wu, the festival commemorated Wu Zixu (died 484 BC), the Premier of Wu. Xi Shi, a beautiful woman sent by King Goujian of the state of Yue, was much loved by King Fuchai of Wu. Wu Zixu, seeing the dangerous plot of Goujian, warned Fuchai, who became angry at this remark. Wu Zixu was forced to commit suicide by Fuchai, with his body thrown into the river on the fifth day of the fifth month. After his death, in places such as Suzhou, Wu Zixu is remembered during the Dragon Boat Festival.
Dragon boat racing
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 the 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. They also scattered rice into the water to feed the fish, to prevent them from eating Qu Yuan’s body, which is one of the origins of zongzi.
Red Bean Rice Dumpling
Zongzi (traditional Chinese rice dumpling)
A notable part of celebrating Dragon Boat Festival is making and eating zongzi with family members and friends. People traditionally wrap zongzi in leaves of reed, bamboo, forming a pyramid shape. The leaves also give a special aroma and flavor to the sticky rice and fillings. Choices of fillings vary depending on regions. Northern regions in China prefer sweet or dessert-styled zongzi, with bean paste, jujube, and nuts as fillings. Southern regions in China prefer savory zongzi, with a variety of fillings including marinated pork belly, sausage, and salted duck eggs.
Zongzi appeared before the Spring and Autumn Period and was originally used to worship ancestors and gods; in the Jin Dynasty, Zongzi became a festive food for the Dragon Boat Festival. Jin Dynasty, dumplings were officially designated as the Dragon Boat Festival food. At this time, in addition to glutinous rice, the raw materials for making zongzi are also added with Chinese medicine Yizhiren. The cooked zongzi is called “yizhi zong”.
The reason why the Chinese eat zongzi on this special day has many statements. The folk version is to hold a memorial ceremony for Quyuan. While in fact, Zongzi has been regarded as an oblation for the ancestor even before the Chunqiu period. From the Jin dynasty, Zongzi officially became the festival food and long last until now.
The Dragon boat days from 3rd to 5th of June of 2022.HUAXIN CARBIDE wish everyone have a wonderful holidays!
Post time: May-24-2022