The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival
Author: qinfoods Date: 2019/06/09
The Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional holiday originating in China, occurring near the summer solstice. The festival now occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month of the traditional Chinese calendar, which is the source of the festival's alternative name, the Double Fifth Festival. The Chinese calendar is lunisolar, so the date of the festival varies from year to year on the Gregorian calendar. In 2017, it occurred on 30 May; in 2018, on 18 June; and, in 2019, on 7 June.
The fifth lunar month is considered an unlucky month. People believed that natural disasters and illness are common in the fifth month. In order to get rid of the misfortune, people would put calamus, Artemisia, pomegranate flowers, Chinese ixora and garlic above the doors in the fifth of May. 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.
The story best known in modern China holds that the festival commemorates the death of the poet and ministerQu 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 king 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.
Another theory, advanced by Wen Yiduo, is that the Dragon Boat Festival originated from dragon worship. Support is drawn from two key traditions of the festival: the tradition of dragon boat racing and zongzi. The food may have originally represented an offering to the dragon king, while dragon boat racing naturally reflects reverence for the dragon and the active yang energy associated with it. This was merged with the tradition of visiting friends and family on boats.