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Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Festival, with a history of over 2000 years, takes place annually on May 5th. Since China is a vast country with many nationalities and customs, the tradition may differ from region to region. In general though, the main activities held on Dragon Boat Festival are as follows: daughters return to their homes, the whole family then participate in many activities such as: hanging the portrait of Zhongkui (a man who is good at catching ghosts), welcoming the “ghost boat”, hanging up calamus (also known as Sweet Flag) and Chinese mugworts, dragon boat racing, watching or competing in martial arts, drinking calamus wine, eating wudu pies, salted eggs, zongzi (pyramid-shaped mass of glutinous rice wrapped in leaves) and fresh vegetables. Some of the activities have been exported and adopted by other countries. For example, dragon boat racing has achieved international following.

Customs of Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Racing

Dragon boat racing is the main activity of the Festival. One legend has it that in ancient times, a famous minister named Qu Yuan committed suicide by jumping into the Miluo River. People jumped in their boats and rowed towards him. They tried to reach and rescue him, but when they arrived at Dongting Lake, they could not find his body. This is said to be the origin of Dragon Boat racing.

The tradition of Dragon Boat racing continues to the present day. It is very popular in areas near rivers, lakes or seas. 

Eating zongzi

Zongzi is a pyramid-shaped mass of glutinous rice wrapped in leaves. The center of each Zongzi can be filled with jujube, ham, sweet bean paste, pork and salted egg yolk. Eating zongzi on Dragon Boat Festival is a tradition in China. Jiaxing of Zhejiang Province is famous for their zongzi.

Nowadays, every Chinese family makes zongzi for the annual Dragon boat Festival. Zongzi is not only popular in China, but also in Korea, Japan and other Southeast Asian countries.

Hanging calamus and Chinese mugwort

Hanging calamus and Chinese mugwort is an important activity on Dragon Boat Festival. Even today, Chinese families do this to celebrate Dragon Boat Festival.


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