The Dragon Boat Festival, also named “Chongwu Festival”, “Calamus Festival” or “Daughter’s Festival”, takes place in May 5 in the lunar calendar. It is a folk festival widely passed down with a history of over two thousand years, and one of the most important festivals as well. There are various celebrating activities on the day of Dragon Boat Festival, among which eating rice dumplings (zongzi, the steamed glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves) and dragon boat race are important customs.
There are many legends on the origin of the Dragon Boat Festival. Some people say it is to commemorate the poet Qu Yuan, while some people think it is to memorialize Wu Zixu, a famous official in the Warring States Period, still there are some others regarding May 5 in the lunar calendar as the date when the Wuyue people held a memorial totem ceremony in ancient times. However, the legend on Qu Yuan is the most widely spread. People praise highly the lofty sentiment and outstanding talent toward this patriotic poet and take more pity on the finale that he drowned himself in a river. In the mind of most Chinese people, the conventions of eating rice dumplings and Dragon Boat Race in the Festival are all closely related to the commemoration of Qu Yuan. Besides, there are also different conventions like drinking realgar wine and wearing sachet.
Eating rice dumplings
Eating rice dumplings is also a traditional convention for Chinese people. The rice dumpling is a kind of food with various designs and styles: in North China, the Beijing date rice dumpling is always wrapped with small Chinese dates; while in South China, the rice dumplings are often stuffed with diversified materials, such as sweetened bean paste, fresh meat, ham and yolk, among which the “Wufangzhai” rice dumplings in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province are the most famous. For thousands of years, the custom of eating rice dumplings has always been prevailing in China and it has spread to Korea, Japan and countries in Southeast Asia. Besides, there are also different conventions like drinking realgar wine and wearing sachet.