Jiaxing's folk customs to celebrate Dragon Boat Festival
Jiaxing holds Nanhu Lake Dragon Boat Race to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival each year. [Photo/jiaxing.gov.cn]
Jiaxing is not only renowned as the granary of China, but also for its rich culture and beautiful scenery.
These have laid a solid foundation for the folk customs during Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. It is one of the oldest festivals in China, with a history of more than 2,000 years.
These folk customs originated in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) and culminated in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing dynasties (1644-1911). In 2009, Jiaxing's folk customs to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival were shortlisted as a State-level intangible cultural heritage item.
Jiaxing celebrates the festival through a combinations of sacrifice, food, entertainment and worship.
The sacrifice includes a sacrificial ceremony for Wu Zixu, a war strategist during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC) who was stationed in Jiaxing, as well as a sacrificial ceremony to dragons, which are believed to control the rain in Chinese legends.
Food eaten includes broad bean rice to celebrate the harvest of natural silk, yellow food, including cucumber, yellow croaker, ricefield eel, salted duck egg, and realgar wine, and zongzi, or traditional Chinese rice-pudding.
Jiaxing's Wufangzhai Zongzi enjoys a strong reputation in China and all of Southeast Asia.
The centerpiece of the Jiaxing celebrations has always been the Nanhu Lake Dragon Boat Race.
Finally, there are many traditions intended to drive out evil spirits and pray for a safe life, which include hanging sweet sedge, garlic, and folium artemisiae argyi at the entrance of each household, hanging images of ghost hunter Zhong Kui or Battle Saint Guan Yu over the living room, burning traditional Chinese herbs such as rhizoma atractylodis and angelica root, children wearing sachets, and women wearing hair accessories in the shape of a tiger, snake or centipede.