Ever since humankind came to its own, it came
to understand the limitations of itself and viewed every calamity it came
upon as the handiwork of mysterious, unseen forces much bigger than it. This
has led to the birth of talisman and charms that are believed to combat the
negative forces and lead a human to the arms of Goddess Fortune. With the
Dragon Boat Festival coming up again, know all about the major talisman and
charms linked to the occasion, each of which are supposed to have its own
significance. To share this article with your friends, click here.
Have a grand "Double Fifth" time with TheHolidaySpot.
The Chinese Dragon Boat
Festival, or "Duan Wu" (in Chinese), is traditionally observed on
the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar
(corresponding to late May - June on the modern Gregorian calendar).
This is the reason why this date is known as "Double Fifth Day" and
the occassion called "The Double Fifth Festival" in Western
countries and also in various parts of East Asia.
The festival is typically celebrated during the summer months with
dragon boat races, family get-togethers and feasting. But "Duan Wu"
is also a time for talismans. And with good reason. In primitive
China, the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar was believed to
be an inauspicious time, a month fraught with danger. Hence, the
ancient Chinese folk used a number of talismans and charms
to protect themselves from the supposed malevolent effects of this
month. Some of these are still practiced by many Chinese people,
either seriously or to just have some festive fun. As the famous
boat festival is held during this fifth month, the occasion
naturally witnesses an ample use of lucky charms.
A popular Chinese tradition observed during "Double Fifth Day" is
the hanging of calamus and moxa (oriental plants) on the front door
by families. This is believed to scare away evil and protect a house
from dark forces. Also hanged on the door of many Chinese homes is a
picture of a fierce-looking male brandishing a magic sword. This is
Zhong Kui(or Chung Kuei), guardian against evil spirits. The man is
a figure of Chinese mythology and traditionally regarded as a
vanquisher of ghosts and evil beings.
The image of Zhong Kui can commonly be found upon Chinese doors,
especially in the time of Dragon Boat Festival.
Another popular custom, carried on from primitive days, involves
cutting shapes of five poisonous animals - snakes, centipedes,
scorpions, lizards and toads (all of which are believed to tempt
evil spirits) - out of red paper. These are then placed in the
mouths of the carved wooden dragons placed on the prow of boats
racing on the Double Fifth Day so as to ward off evils.
But it is also believed that such customs are practiced not only to
prevent evil but also diseases. It must be remembered that the
Double Fifth Day falls at the beginning of summer, when diseases are
likely to strike. In China, the fifth month is a hot, humid season
and the weather is conductive to the spread of infectious diseases.
Because of this, adults and children used to carry with them
fragrant silk pouches filled with spices. Hand-made by local
craftsmen, these small spice bags of silk, fine satin or cotton were
commonly believed to perform the dual function of scaring evil
spirits away and also as a lucky charm in bringing happiness and
prosperity to its wearers. These are still used today in the
Skilled craftsmen often embellish these bags by embroidering onto
them figures of different shapes, like that of animals, flowers and
fruits. Chinese herbal medicines are also sometimes added to the
spices inside the bags for added effect.
The tradition of drinking Xiong Huang Wine continue to this day
albeit in a new form, in the very popular practice of having Chinese
liquor seasoned with realgar (a rare soft orange mineral consisting
of arsenic sulphide) at the Dragon Boat Festival. Only adults have
this drink to get protection from evil and disease for the rest of
It is said that all those who succeed in making a raw egg stand on
its end exactly at 12:00 noon on Double Fifth Day, will have good
luck and prosperity for the rest of the year.