Daring Duanwu Festival

Updated: 2012-06-25 10:10

(China Daily)

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Daring Duanwu Festival

A folk arts troupe performs traditional dance to celebrate Duanwu Festival in Fuzhou, capital of East China's Fujian province. Zhang Bin / For China Daily

Daring Duanwu Festival

A customer picks a perfumed medicine cachet in a market in Heihe, Heilongjiang province. Zhang Jiancheng / For China Daily

Daring Duanwu Festival

Overseas students from Capital Medical University learn to wrap zongzi, a traditional delicacy for Duanwu Festival, in the Grand View Garden in Beijing. Cheng Gong / For China Daily

Daring Duanwu Festival

A contestant holds a duck in Yibin, Sichuan province. Local people stage the competition to celebrate Duanwu Festival. Zeng Lang / For China Daily

Daring Duanwu Festival

A statue of Qu Yuan at a Duanwu culture festival in Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai on June 8. Liu Ying / Xinhua

Dragon boats and zongzi celebrate the day and the dramatic story of poet Qu Yuan.

Besides enjoying a delicious zongzi (dumplings made of glutinous rice), what's your plan to spend the traditional Chinese Duanwu Festival? As a vast country with a long history, China and its people celebrate the festival in a variety of ways. Three of the most widespread activities for the festival are eating zongzi, drinking xionghuangjiu - a wine made from the sulfide realgar - and racing dragon boats.

Along with Spring Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival, Duanwu, also called Dragon Boat Festival, is one of three major traditional Chinese festivals.

Known in Chinese as Duanwu - the fifth day of the fifth lunar month - the festival was recognized in 2008 as a public holiday on the Chinese mainland for the first time since the 1940s.

During the festival, people often put leaves of mugwort or cattails on either side of the doors to their homes, wear cachets of perfumed medicine and spray realgar water to prevent disease or evil and promote health and well-being.

The origins of the festival are often connected to the great patriotic and literary figure Qu Yuan.

During the Warring States Period (475-221 BC) in ancient China, the noted poet and official in the state of Chu was removed from office and sent into exile by the king. In sorrow, Qu embraced a heavy stone and drowned himself in the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.

Locals searched for him and dropped dumplings of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves into the river to prevent the fish from eating Qu's body.

Since then, it has been a tradition to eat zongzi on this day as a memorial to the poet.

In September 2009, Duanwu Festival was included on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's Intangible Cultural Heritage list along with 21 other items from China.

The festival "strengthens bonds within families and establishes a harmonious relationship between humanity and nature", said the UNESCO in its selection.