The dragon boat festival (端午节 duānwǔ jié) falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. That is the reason that it is also called the Double Fifth Festival. It usually falls sometime around June.
In the Chinese culture, this is one of three important holidays to celebrate. The other two important holidays are the Chinese New Year and the mid-autumn festival. All three holidays are based on the lunar calendar.
There are some Dragon Boat Festival related vocabulary I list below.
屈原 qūyuán Qu Yuan
端午节 duānwǔ jié Dragon Boat Festival, Double Fifth Festival
农历五月五日 nónglì wǔ yuè wǔ rì The fifth of the fifth lunar month
龙舟 lóngzhōu Dragon boat
划龙舟比赛 huà lóngzhōu bǐsài Dragon boat races
粽子 zòngzi Zongzi (rice dumpling)
香包 xiāng bāo Sachets
艾草 ài cǎo Wormwood
立蛋 lì dàn Stand an egg
Dragon Boat Festival Infographic Simplified Chinese Version
Dragon Boat Festival Origin and Events
The origin of the dragon boat festival comes from Qu Yuan (屈原 qūyuán), who was a government official and a poet during the Warring States period. He was a well-respected man, but because of the jealousy of other officials, Qu Yuan was mistreated by the emperor. Qu Yuan was not able to regain the respect of the emperor, so he threw himself in the Mi Lo River.
Because he was well-respected by the local people, when they heard what Qu Yuan did, people went looking for him in the Mi Lo River (汨罗江 Mìluō jiāng). When they were unable to find his body, they threw rice into the river and hoped that the fish would eat the rice instead of Qu Yuan’s body. That was where the tradition of dragon boats (龙舟 lóngzhōu) and zongzi (粽子 zòngzirice dumplings) came from. Dragon boat races are becoming popular nowadays, and even teams from outside of Asia will come and compete.
There are several different kinds of zongzi. The main difference is in the fillings. Mushroom and pork are the most common ingredients along with other foods. Most zongzi are salty but some are made sweet.
The weather begins to get hotter in East Asia around this time and that’s when some diseases, insects, and bugs will come. Having some wormwood (艾草 ài cǎo) hanging by the door can keep these away from the house. Sachets have a similar purpose. People put some Chinese herbs and spices into the sachets, which are usually made from silk cloth with a sac-like shape. The name of the sachets in Chinese is 香包 xiāng bāo, which literally means “good smell bag.” So, the smell of the sachets is actually pleasant for people but can also keep the insects and bugs away. People usually keep the sachets for their kids or as a decoration at home.
Another popular activity is standing eggs(立蛋 lì dàn). Some people believe there is a higher chance to make an egg stand up at noon on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. And if you do it successfully, it will bring good luck.