The name Duanwu literally means the fifth day of the fifth month in the lunar calendar. According to Chinese myths, this is an ominous day in the ominous month when pestilence and poisonous creatures outbreak actively. It could decide people’s life and death. The myth may also explain why people assumed that distinguished people had died on that day.
In order to protect people from the problems that may arise on this unwelcome day, people traditionally cut branches of wormwood plants, boil them, or hang them above their doors, to repel pests and evil spirits. Some people even bathe in wormwood water, believing it to be a good way to ensure a safe summer free from mosquitoes.
Whether as a day to commemorate the great, or a day to ward off evil spirits, Duanwu has combined many unique traditions and customs over the years, which now give people another good excuse to celebrate. Nowadays, people across China usually eat Zongzi, hold dragon boat racing and drink realgar wine to celebrate the festival.