Dragon Boat Festival is one of the traditional Chinese festivals that are popular among people in different regions. The Dragon Boat Festival once had many interesting customs that are no longer commonly observed, although they are still practiced in rural areas. As for Guilin local people, they still post great importance to this special festival.
Falling on the 5th day of the 5th month according to Chinese lunar calendar, the Dragon Boat Festival is one of great significance. It has been held annually for more than 2,000 years and is notable for its educational influence. Guilin people take this festival to commemorate the patriotic poet Qu Yuan (340-278 BC), and it also acts as a chance for Guilin people to build their bodies and dispel diseases. Many legends circulate around the festival but the most popular is the legend of Qu Yuan. And it is also believed that the celebration of Dragon Boat Racing may bring a good harvest and a peaceful river. A lot of fireworks will be played, sacrifice of rice dumpling will be offered to the “God’ of Dragon, and the locals will sing a lot of boating songs. The following three activities are the most popular and traditional one.
Dragon Boat Race
Dragon Boat Race is held on May 5th in Chinese lunar calendar. It is said that a small Dragon Boat Race take place every five year and a big one every ten years. Before the competition, participants do lots of train to make them in the best physical condition for this important and prestigious event. The banks of the Lijiang River are crowded with spectators on that day as the dragon boats race on the river with the deafening sounds of dragon boat songs, bells and drums. The winners are awarded the traditional prizes of silver coins and treated to a roasted pig. Guilin held its first International Dragon Boat Contest in 1998, which attracted Dragon Boat troupes from South East Asian Countries, Hong Kong SAR, Macau, and China’s Taiwan.
It is a tradition for Guilin people to eat zongzi during the Dragon Boat Festival. Zongzi is made differently in different areas of China. Historical records show that people used bamboo leaves to wrap millets into the shape of ox horns, and then placed them in bamboo to cook. In Guilin, Zongzi, can be filled with a variety of fillings. There are bean Zongzi, chestnut Zongzi, pork Zongzi, and lotus seed paste Zongzi, just to name a few. People in the Guilin region prefer small, pillow-shaped Zongzi. In particular, people in the northern part of Guilin make Zongzi in the shape of a dog's head. More importantly, the fillings used differ from one place to another. People in Guilin often add a little baking soda to the filling to make the Zongzi tastier. So zongzi is really a delicious snack in Guilin. The best part about this traditional Chinese food is that it can be refrigerated and when wanted, just heated in a microwave.
Placing Aiye leave in the front door
Every year on the day of Dragon Boat Festival, people would usually place Aiye which is a kind of plant in their front door for the purpose of good fortune and safety for the families. There is a legend that can explain why Guilin people do this. At the end of Tang dynasty, there was a brave hero name Huangchao who leaded a political rebel against the government at that time. The arming of Huangchao was so courageous and talented that the armies of Tang government were scared to scatter whenever they had a war with each other. However, Huangchao was very merciful to ordinary people (laobaoxing) and he told people to place Aiye in their front door as a sigh so that his army would not do any harm to those kind people. So people in that area did as they were told and they were safe under the protection of the great leader Huangchao. So as a tradition, people just place Aiye in the front door for a safe and peaceful life. .
If you have the opportunity to visit Guilin during the Dragon Boat Festival, you will find this festival is full of colorful traditions that will enable you to explore more exciting things about this charming city.
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