TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Friday (June 3) is Dragon Boat Festival (端午節) and like all festivals in Taiwan, there are a set of taboos to avoid in order to ensure good health, prosperity, and good luck for the rest of the year.
The Dragon Boat Festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth month on the lunisolar calendar and commemorates the death of Chinese poet and politician Chu Yuan (屈原). Yang Teng-kei (楊登嵙), a folk custom expert and the founding chairman of the Taichung Numerology Education Association, says the festival occurs when yang energy (陽氣) is nearing its peak.
The numerologist said that because yang energy is so strong on this day, the bad luck from spirits, also known as "Good Brothers," will gather in places where yin energy (陰氣) is heavier. When venturing out, Yang advises people to avoid places with heavy yin energy, such as beaches, hospitals, and funeral homes.
In addition, he said that because of the abundance of yang energy, the Dragon Boat Festival is not a good day to engage in sexual intercourse because it could lead to excessive consumption of yang energy and affect one's health. The following are six taboos Yang recommends the public avoid during the Dragon Boat Festival:
1. Don't go to places with heavy yin energy
Because yang energy is so abundant during the festival, Good Brothers, yin evil, and foul chi gather in places with heavy yin energy, such as hospitals and crematoriums. Visiting such places could lead to bad luck, which could cause a deterioration in health.
If one must visit such places, it is advisable to carry a talisman, wormwood, Sweet flag (Acorus calamus), or sachet to ward off evil spirits and stay safe.
2. Don't go to riversides or seasides where accidents have frequently occurred
Good Brothers in the water are all hiding in areas with negative magnetic fields where they wait to capture souls to take their place.
3. Don't go swimming
Again, due to the abundance of yang energy, Good Brothers hide in waters where the magnetic fields are strongest in yin energy. Swimming and frolicking in streams, rivers, or the sea without a lifeguard could lead to one becoming the replacement for a Good Brother.
4. Don't lose the sachet
Children and adults traditionally wear embroidered sachets filled with assorted contents on Dragon Boat Festival to repel insects, ward off evil spirits, and ensure peace. It is a taboo to lose one's sachet on Dragon Boat Festival as it is believed the loss would bring bad luck within a year's time.
Sachets for sale for Dragon Boat Festival in 2021. (CNA photo)
5. Don't gift sticky rice dumplings that are tied together
Sticky rice dumplings (zongzi) are commonly eaten on Dragon Boat Festival and can be given as gifts. However, in Taiwan, meat-filled zongzi hanging on a string on this day is inauspicious because it harkens to a Taiwanese ritual called songrouzong (送肉粽) in which the souls of those who have committed suicide by hanging, euphemistically referred to as "hanging zongzi" are banished.
When gifting a person a batch of meat zongzi, it is important to first cut any string that links a cluster of them together. If you receive a cluster of zongzi, be sure to immediately cut the strings that bind them together.
The Taiwanese horror film "The Rope Curse" (粽邪) centers around an attempt to document the banishing ceremony by YouTubers gone awry.
Scene from "The Rope Curse." (WOWing Entertainment Group image)
6. Don't have sex
Excessive yang energy on this day will cause rapid physical exhaustion. If sexual indulgence is excessive, it will deplete the body and make one vulnerable to evil poisons and affect future health.