The 5th day of the 5th lunar month is the Dragon Boat Festival, also called Dragon Boat Festival. Although the festival has different names, people in different places share the same custom. The Dragon Boat Festival is a custom with a history of over 2,000 years. All the families hang out the portraits of Zhong Kui and angry wormwood, race dragon boats, eat zongzi, drink alcohol which can disperse all illnesses, wear incense bladders and prepare livestock tribute.
The first meaning of the Dragon Boat Festival is to commemorate the great national poet Qu Yuan in history. Qu Yuan, also called Qu Ping, lived in the Chu state during the Warring States Period. The second meaning of the Dragon Boat Festival is to commemorate the death day of Wu Zixu, also called Wu Yuan, lived in the Chu state. His father and brother were killed by the king. He had to flee to the Wu state and helped the Wu state attack the Chu state. After 5 campaigns he led the Wu army to capture the capital of the Chu state, Yincheng City. Then he helped the Wu army defeat the Yue state. He refused firmly the peace proposal by the Yue state. He was misunderstood by the Wu king and was forced to kill himself. Before his death, he was very calm and predicted the Wu state would be defeated by the Yue state at last, which proved to become a reality a few years later. So it is said that the Dragon Boat Festival is set to commemorate Wu Zixu.
The third meaning of the Dragon Boat Festival is to commemorate the pious daughter Cao Eh who drowned herself in the river in order to save her father. She lived in Shangyu City in the Eastern Han Dynasty. Her father was drowned in the river and his corpse could not be found. Cao Eh, only aged 14, cried along the river all day and all night. She carried her father's body out of the river all by herself. The event was known to the country officials. They made steles and odes in honor of her. Her grave lies in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province. The words on the grave stone were written by Wang Xizhi, a famous calligrapher in the Jin Dynasty. After that, in honor of her, people built the Cao Eh Temple and the town as well as the river was named after her.
The fourth meaning of the Dragon Boat Festival is to commemorate the modern revolutionary poet Qiu Jin. She sacrificed her life on June 5th. In honor of her poems and her revolutionary achievements, people set her death day and the Poets' Day on the same date, the latter of which is to respect Qin Yuan. Qiu Jin, also called rui qin jing xiong, Jianghu Swords-woman and yu gu, born in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province, was good at poetry and verses, horse riding and swords-craft when she was young. So she was also called another Hua Mulan, Qin Liangyu. At 28 she joined in revolution and became quite renowned. But when she was prepared for a new uprising, she was caught by the Qing government and died a martyr in Xuan Henkou, Shaoxing on June 5th 1910.
Putting up the portrait of Zhong Kui: The portrait of Zhong Kui in the families along the Yangtze and Huaihe River, is used to drive out evils and protect the houses. Zhong Kui is a ghost who appeared in a dream of Ming Emperor in the Tang Dynasty and promised to get rid of all the evils. Ming Emperor asked the famous painter Wu Daozi to draw the portrait of Zhong Kui and ordered the folk to put up the portrait to protect them from evils.
Hanging out agry wormwood: In the Dragon Boat Festival all the families like to use agry wormwood and other herb plants to make man-like things and hang them out in the houses. Women even like to wear them. All this is done to drive out evils.
Dragon boat race: When Qu Yuan drowned himself in the river, many people tried to save him in boats. They vied each other in doing this until they reached Dongting Lake. But in vain, so they decided to race dragon boats to commemorate Qu Yuan on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month with the purpose to frighten away the fishes in the river lest they eat away Qu's body. The race is very popular in what are now Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Hubei Provinces. Taiwan started dragon boat races in 18 --. Now in Taiwan there are dragon boat races on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month every year.
Recently even the English people begin to organize and participate in this race.
Eating zongzi: People in the Chu region will throw boiled glutinous rice and steamed zongzi into the Yangste River on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month in order to worship Quyuan because they are afraid that the hungry fishes have to eat Qu's body.
Drinking Realgar Alcohol: this custom is quite popular in the families along the Yangtze River.
Dispersing all evils: this custom is popular in the GuiZhou region .
Wearing incense bladders: In the Dragon Boat Festival children often wear incense bladders in order not only to drive out evils but also to decorate their appearances. Inside the bladders those are cinnabar realgar and incense. They are wrapped in silk cloth and can give off incense fragrance. Then they are attached to a bunch of silk knots in different shapes to make them more beautiful and exquisite.