Dragon Boat Festival 龙舟节 lóng zhōu jié, also called 端午节 duān wǔ jié, is held every year on May 5th of Chinese lunar calendar, and this year on June 3rd.
端午节 duān wǔ jié， is one of the most important traditional festivals in Chinese, and the one announcing the Summer arrival. In the past, many diseases and plagues were said to permeate the lands during the same time of year as the festival, and so people would make incense bags (香囊 xiāngnáng) to hang around their necks. They believed this would not only protect them from the diseases but from evil spirits too.
Like all Chinese transitional festivals, there is also one food for Duanwu festival: 粽子 zòngzi. It is a rice dumpling made out of sticky or glutinous rice, wrapped in bamboo leaves to form a pyramid shape that is tied with plant stems. There are also a number of different fillings available, such as egg yolk, lotus seeds, ham, red bean paste, rose, melon, date, chestnut and pork. Northern Chinese people like the sweet ones while the southern Chinese appreciate various taste.
The main activities are of course the dragon boat races (龙舟比赛 lóngzhōu bǐsài). These are the real highlight of the festival, with the ornately carved boats and fierce painted ‘dragon’ heads and tails. It is a vibrant spectacle that consists of heavy drumming and intense racers as they race to reach the finish line.
There is a tragic story behind the 粽子 zòngzi. and the dragon boat races 龙舟比赛 lóngzhōu bǐsài. Legend has it that Qū Yuán 屈原, known for his patriotism and contributions to classical poetry, after finishing his final poem, waded into the River as a form of protest and despair to the corruption surrounding him. Villagers took boats and carried dumplings to the middle of the river to try and save Qu Yuan, but their efforts were in vain. They turned to beating drums, splashing water with their paddles and throwing the rice dumplings into the water – serving as both an offering to Qu Yuan’s spirit, as well as a means to keep the fish and evil spirits away from his body.
端午安康 duān wǔ ān kāng, today the best wishes during Dragon boat festival are peace 平安 píngān and health 健康 jiànkāng.