The Duanwu Festival, also known as the Dragon Boat Festival, is a traditional Chinese occasion during which people pray for good health. As the world continues to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's festival holds new wishes for future happiness.
Why is this festival associated with praying for good health? The Duanwu Festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, typically in June, according to the Gregorian calendar. Ancient Chinese observed that illnesses were particularly common during this time of the year based on their experiences. They also noticed that venomous creatures, such as snakes, centipedes and scorpions, became more active during the days surrounding the festival, posing threats to their health and even their lives.
To protect themselves from these dangers and prevent diseases, ancient people would hang mugwort or calamus and carry perfumed medicine pouches. They also engaged in long walks as a form of exercise to maintain good health. As June ushered in the hot summer, they would also use realgar as a pesticide against mosquitoes and as an antidote against poison.
These traditions have been passed down for generations, marking the festival's history of over 2,000 years. This year, the Duanwu Festival falls on June 22. Let's commemorate this occasion by exploring its cherished traditions in the following six pictures.