The nature hidden in Dragon Boat Festival' traditions

Dragon Boat Festival, or Duanwu Festival is one of the most important traditional festivals in Chinese culture. It is an occasion to commemorate the death of famous poet and politician Qu Yuan (340-278 BC). 

On Dragon Boat Festival, Chinese people will hold various activities based on the customs to celebrate the festival, including dragon boat racing and eating Zongzi, or rice dumplings. This year's Dragon Boat Festival falls on a Friday (today). On this day, let's get to know some interesting knowledge of nature hidden in these traditions.

Zongzi is one of the main food items eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival. It is a rice dumpling made out of glutinous rice and wrapped in bamboo leaves to form a pyramid shape. The most common fillings are usually red bean pastes or dates. But actually, some plants including roses, osmanthus and even green tea is used. These special-flavored Zongzi are somewhat welcomed among the young people during the festival.

A part of the Dragon Boat Festival tradition is also related to herbs. Ancient people noticed that summer was a time that people would easily get sick from heat and mosquito bites. In order to prevent families from diseases, they tended to use specific herbs like the Chinese mugworts to make bunches and hanging them out of the door as they believe the scent can drive disease-carried things away. 

Except for this, another tradition of the festival is making and wearing scented sachets for kids. Usually the stuffing for these sachets includes black atractylodes rhizome, Chinese patchouli and other scented herbs or flowers which are believed to drive diseases away. Therefore, these Dragon Boat Festival traditions are also considered as the earliest form of epidemic-preventing measures in China.

(All images via VCG.)

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