How Do Chinese Celebrate Dragon Boat Festival?

Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. There are different findings about the origin of Tuen Ng. The mostly widely accepted one is about the patriotic scholar-statesman Chu Yuan who drowned himself to protest against the emperor. Chu Yuan worked very hard to offer good counsel to the emperor but the emperor won't listen. 

People respect Chu Yuan. When they heard that he was drowned, they jumped on boats to search for him. This is a part of what the Dragon Boat Festival commemorates every year. Failing to find Chu Yuan, people hit drums and making loud noised hoping to scare the fish and won't touch Chu Yuan's body. People lived along the river also put cooked rice in the river as a sacrifice. But then they found that the fish got the rice so people wrapped the cooked rice in bamboo leaves. This evolves to present day's rice dumplings.

Rice dumpling - rice dumplings are around for a long time. It was popular during summer in Eastern Han dynasty. During West Tsin dynasty, people started to have rice dumplings on Dragon Boat Festival. There are basically savory or sweet rice dumplings. Each family made lots of dumplings so that there are plenty for themselves, for relatives, friends and teachers. The savory ones are made of glutinous rice, fresh meat, salted meat or ham. Sweet ones are made of glutinous rice, bean paste, dates' paste and honey. he modern version you found in Hong Kong is slight different now. The savory ones may have peanuts or green bean or meet and ham and they all have a salty egg yolk in it. The sweet ones have red bean paste or lotus seed paste inside.

Superstition - Besides the death of Chu Yuan, the fifth lunar month is considered an unlucky month. People believed that natural disasters and illness are common in the fifth month. Superstition is unavoidable. Most families hang calamus and Artemisia above their doors, kitchen and bed to help to get rid of the misfortune. These are the leaves different gods and legendary heroes used to get rid of evil spirits. Portraits of gods could be purchased to put on the front door to protect the whole family too.

It is believed that Dragon Boat Festival Day is a great day for collecting herbs as medicine. They believe the herbs work better if you pick it and prepare it on this day. Various kinds of herbs are also boiled in the water and people bathe in it to help staying healthy.

Dragon boat race and other findings - However, some people found that Tuen Ng actually started before the death of Chu Yuan. It was a dragon related festival to start with and the dragon boat race did not take place on Tuen Ng day until Ming dynasty. Dragon is the god that rules the water world. Dragon Boats feature the head and tail of dragon. After the dragon boats sailed in the water, the water is blessed and people nowadays still swim in this 'dragon boat water' hoping to stay healthy for the rest of the year. Dragon boat races are so widely accepted that it became an international competition.