Dragon Boat Festival
Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated on the fifth
day of the fifth lunar month, and together with Chinese 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, 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 Chu Yuan.
Dragon Boat Festival is highlighted by the
dragon boat races, in which competing teams
drive their boats forward rowing
to the rhythm of pounding drums. This lively and colorful tradition has
continued unbroken for centuries to the present day.
The festival's significance as a time for
warding off evil and disease is symbolized by a number of customary
practices such as hanging calamus and moxa on the front door, and pasting up
pictures of Chung Kuei (a nemesis of evil
spirits). Adults drink hsiung huang wine and
children are given fragrant sachets, both
of which are said to possess qualities for preventing evil and bringing peace. Another custom
practiced in Taiwan is fetching noon water,
in which people draw well
water on the afternoon of the festival in the belief that it will cure
illness. And if you can successfully stand an egg
on its end exactly at 12:00 noon, then the coming year will be a lucky one.
The most popular dish during Dragon Boat
Festival is tzung tzu, originally eaten in
memory of the patriot Chu Yuan,
but gradually evolving into a snack eaten during normal occasions as well.
Of all the major holidays celebrated in China,
Dragon Boat Festival has the longest history. Occurring at the beginning of
summer when insects thrives, the festival was distinguished from other
occasions in earlier days as a time for reminding family members to take
care of their health. The Chinese continue to heed this wisdom, however, by
replacing the traditional customs of hanging calamus and moxa, drinking
hsiung huang wine, and giving sachets, with more advanced methods for
protecting one's health.