All four neighborhood countries
(China, Việt Nam, Japan and Korea), strangely, has a festival on the 5th day of the 5th month of the Lunar calendar.
It’s called Duanwu Festival (端午节) in China where people commemorate the poet Qu Yuan on the day he died every year. The focus of most celebrations involves eating zongzi (sticky rice treats wrapped in bamboo leaves), drinking realgar wine (雄黃酒, xiónghuángjiǔ), and racing dragon boats. People also hangs auspicious plants ( mug wort leaves and calamus) on their door to ward off evil spirit and disease. Another traditions is wearing perfume pouch and tying five-colors threads, both also serves to dispel negative forces.
Meanwhile, the Vietnamese celebrate a festival called Tết Đoan Ngọ which also has another name, Tết diệt sâu bọ i.e Worm and Insect Killing Festival. This refers to both the physicals insect that appears when the harvest season ends and spiritual insects such as disease and bad-luck that lurks in the body and becomes stronger in this specific day. While physically killing insect don’t appear much today due to the invention of modern insecticide, the traditions of killing maladies in the body is still alive. This usually involves drinking wine, eating various fruits, painting your nails and enjoying a herbal bath. People believe that the zenith of this day gives off the most amount of Dương khí (ie.Yang air/energy), and thus the best time to harvest medicine plants. The Vietnamese also has similar tradition to the Chinese such as hanging plants or tying five-color threads.
The Korea celebrates a festival called Dano (단오) in this day. Traditionally, women washed their hair in water boiled with Sweet Flag (changpo (창포)), believed to make one’s hair shiny. People wore blue and red clothes and dyed hairpins red with the iris roots. Men wore iris roots around their waist to ward off evil spirits. Herbs wet with dew on this morning were said to heal stomachaches and wounds. Traditional foods include surichitteok, ssuktteok, and other herb rice cakes.The persisting folk games of Dano are the swing, ssireum (씨름), stone battle game seokjeon and taekkyon (택견). The swing was a game played by women, while ssireum was a wrestling match among men. In addition, mask dance used to be popular among peasants due to its penchant for satirical lyrics flouting local aristocrats.
The only oddball here are Japan with Kodomo no Hi (こどもの日), while the other three festivals are used to celebrate the end of the season in some manner, the Japanese one is used to celebrates children’s personalities and their happiness instead. On this day, families raise the carp-shaped koinobori flags (carp because of the Chinese legend that a carp that swims upstream becomes a dragon, and the way the flags blow in the wind looks like they are swimming), with one carp for the father, one for the mother, and one carp for each child (traditionally each son). Families also display a Kintarō doll usually riding on a large carp, and the traditional Japanese military helmet, kabuto, due to their tradition as symbols of strength and vitality.Kintarō (金太郎?) is the childhood name of Sakata no Kintoki who was a hero in the Heian period, a subordinate samurai of Minamoto no Raikou, having been famous for his strength when he was a child. It is said that Kintarō rode a bear, instead of a horse, and played with animals in the mountains when he was a young boy.Mochi rice cakes wrapped in kashiwa (oak) leaves—kashiwa-mochi (mochi filled with red bean jam) and chimaki (a kind of “sweet rice paste”, wrapped in an iris or bamboo leaf)—are traditionally served on this day.