Enjoy the holiday during Duanwu Festival in Guizhou


Enjoy the holiday during Duanwu Festival in Guizhou

by Live in Guizhou

PUBLISHED Nov 11, 2021 • 4MIN READ

The Spring Festival, Qingming (or Tomb-Sweeping Festival), Mid Autumn Festival, and Duanwu are four of China’s most important traditional holidays. A practice observed throughout China is to plant willows during Qingming and tie mugworts on your door during Duanwu. Mugworts are known for their volatile and aromatic compounds and are often used as a folk remedy to stay alert and mosquito repellent. Traditionally, families would clean up their house and stick a mugwort bundle on the top of the door, which symbolizes good fortunes, good health, and good luck.

The Dragon Boat

The Dragon Boat Race in Zhenyuan, Guizhou is a National Intangible Cultural Heritage. The preparation for this annual cultural festival typically starts in the fourth lunar month. This year, the 37th Dragon Boat Race Cultural Festival of the Ancient City of Zhenyuan lasted from June 12th to 14th. The festival was part of the greater “Colorful Guizhou” initiative that promotes multiple high-quality cultural activities. 11 carefully-prepared activities were offered, such as rafting along the Gaoguo River, the Wu River Rock Concert, the Intangible Cultural Heritage Expo, the Dragon Boat Race, the Dragon-Offering Ceremony, festive parades, and floating lanterns for blessings.

The Water Dragon Dance

The Water Dragon Dance, also known as The Gift of Fortuitous Water, is a tradition that has lasted for over six centuries in Pingtang, Guizhou, evolving from ceremonial folk traditions of imploring the heavens for rain during droughts. The Water Dragon Dance involves the entire city, as everyone joins in with whatever is on hand that can carry water, be it bowls, buckets, water guns, or the proverbial kitchen sink. With these tools, water is thrown, tossed, or ejected at the water dragon dancers, and everyone gets to have a good time. The dance has gained popularity in recent years as the local government began promoting and protecting this ancient tradition under its cultural and ecological legacy initiative.

Disease-Away Trek

Other than Dragon Boat Racing and eating “Zongzi,” the traditional sticky rice ball dish, there is a unique Guizhou Duanwu tradition called the “Disease-Away Trek.” During the Duanwu festival period, the locals would don new clothes, trek through nature, and gather wildflowers and herbs. These flowers and herbs are boiled at night when they return home, and a bath is drawn using the water. The locals believe that this will drive away bad luck and disease–a significant and recurring theme for many Chinese traditions.

Wheat ritual ceremony

The distilleries in Maotai town will host their wheat ritual ceremony. This 600-year tradition is found nowhere else in the world. Wheat is an essential and permeating presence for the local livelihood, as it is the malt used in many of the delicious brews here. The malt requires a high natural temperature to ferment. Duanwu, as the prelude of the Summer Solstice, signifies that the hottest season is almost here and thus is seen as the start of a new production cycle.

Perfumed sachets filled with herbs

Perfumed sachets filled with herbs are also a part of the Duanwu celebration, as everyone is supposed to carry one on that day. The sachets are a highly personalized affair, hand-sewn and filled with whatever herbs and scents pleasing to the wearer. Popular choices to include in your sachet are often those that also have practical purposes–medicinal herbs, spices, cinnabar, and realgar are often used to ward against disease and mosquitoes. Sachets are made by enveloping spices with a piece of silk cloth, which is then tied using colored strings. The outside is decorated with colorful stitches, making it a lovely adornment.

The five-colored string

The five-colored string is also known as five-colored silk. The five colors are much revered in ancient China, as they represent each of the five elements in traditional philosophy: water, fire, earth, gold, and wood. The five-colored string is woven together, representing balance and harmony in nature, thought to bring good fortunes to the wearer. Therefore, on the day of Duanwu, children will be given a five-colored string tied around their wrist, ankle, or neck. The string is meant to keep the children safe from pests or disease and wards away harmful fortune and must not be broken or misplaced for the entire day.