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Fascinating folk customs of Chinese Duanwu Festival


10:07, June 21, 2012

Photo taken on May 27, 2009 shows a 7-meter-high Zongzi model displayed in Suzhou, a city of east China’s Jiangsu Province.(Xinhua)

Edited and translated by Ye Xin, People's Daily Online

The Dragon Boat Festival, also called Duanwu Festival and the Double Fifth, is a traditional and statutory holiday originating in China. It is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month according to the Chinese calendar.

The Dragon Boat Festival is together with Chinese Lunar New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival forms one of the three major Chinese holidays.

Since the summer is a time when diseases most easily spread, the Dragon Boat Festival began as an occasion for driving off evil spirits and pestilence and for finding peace in one's life. The festival was later enriched by the legend of the patriot Qu Yuan.

There are numerous versions of the festival’s origin, among which three legends are the most widely circulated, and they are respectively in memory of Qu Yuan, a famous patriotic poet, in memory of Wu Zixu, a famous Chinese scholar and military general during the Spring and Autumn Period and in memory of a filial dutiful daughter-Cao E.

Three of the most widespread activities for the Dragon Boat Festival are making and eating zongzi, drinking realgar wine, and racing dragon boats.

Other common activities include hanging up icons of Zhong Kui, a mythic guardian figure, hanging mugwort and calamus, taking long walks, and wearing perfumed medicine bags. Other traditional activities include a game of making an egg stand at noon, and this "game" is one that if you stand at exactly 12.00 noon you will have luck for the next year, and writing spells.

All of these activities, together with the drinking of realgar wine, were regarded by the ancients as effective in preventing disease or evil and promoting health and well-being.

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