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The Dragonboat-Festival

The Dragonboat-Festival commemorates the death of the poet and minister Qu Yuan (~ 340–278 BC). He lived during the Warring States period, in the ancient state of Chu of the Zhou Dynasty. Many Asian countries follow this tradition, but differing in style and aims. There are also different names for the festival, such as "Double-Five", referring to the date of celebration, as the Dragonboat-Festival occurs on the fifth day of the fifth month of the traditional Chinese lunar calendar. Another name is "Sticky Rice Festival", due to the habit of consuming tasty sticky rice treats wrapped in bamboo leaves. But originally, the festival was a custom of praying for being saved from bad luck and disease.

The story about Qu Yuan goes like this: Being a minister and poet at the royal house, one day, the King lost trust in him. In despair, Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the river Miluo. But people were racing out with boats, trying to save him. In order to prevent his body from being eaten by fish, they threw sticky rice balls wrapped in bamboo leaves (Zongzi) into the water. Until today, we follow this tradition, commemorating Qu Yuan, and also for fun.

In Taiwan, families gather on this day. Zongzi are prepared and the family dines together. Zongzi are made with rice, mugwort, calamus, pomegranate, garlic and Chinese Ixora. These five herbs are symbols for avoiding bad or evil things. In Taiwan, people also celebrate the Dragonboat-Festival with many interesting customs: Normally, we will put mugwort and calamus on the wall, to avoid disease. Twigs of Chinese banyan, lemon grass and mugwort are combined and bound to the doors. Taiwanese people are convinced that these will prevent evil ghosts from entering the house, and attract good luck.

Comparing Taiwan and China, there are a few differences in style of how to beget the festival. In Taiwan, people will not only drink alcohol during the Dragonboat Festival, but also a special kind of water being scooped from the tab or from a river at lunch time that day. Consumption of this so-called "Noon-Water" shows a special effect: epidemics can be healed, and disease can be avoided by spreading the water on the body.

During the day, there is an interesting activity to see: it is called the "Dragonboat Race". People compete by small boats shaped like a dragon. Originally, this kind of sport was once part of naval education, but today, it has become a popular focus of attention. Competitions are held in the following places in Taiwan: Yilan Dongshan, Tainan und Lukang.

If you have time, you can go to these cities and personally watch a Dragonboat Race. But most importantly, you should enjoy the festival!