The dragon boat festival is held in remembrance of poet Qu Yuan’s death. Qu Yuan was a faithful servant of his emperor, but was falsely accused of being a traitor. He drowned himself in a river after several decades in exile, but the local people loved him and remember him fondly. Sounds morbid, but actually the festival is a joyous one, where dragon boats are raced on the river (to commemorate the search for Qu Yuan’s body) and 粽子 zòng zi5 (boiled triangular rice balls wrapped in leaves) are eaten (when he died, it’s said that 粽子 were thrown into the river to feed him in the afterlife – other stories have it that people threw 粽子 into the river to keep the fish from eating his body before they could find it).
A couple of words in this essay are not in the dictionary, and need explaining: namely 艾香. I this case, 艾香 ài xiāng means “the smell of wormwood”, and it refers to the smell produced by bouquets of wormwood (艾草) that people hang on their door during the Dragon Boat Festival to drive away bad luck.
Another word here is 雄黄酒, something that I’ve seen but never tried, and while there is an English word for this, I’ve never heard this spoken in English. 雄黄酒 is “realgar wine”, whatever the heck realgar is. If you’re curious, this article has more information on realgar wine and it’s association with the Dragon Boat Festival.
And finally, there’s 趟露水, literally “to wade in the dew”, and it refers to (what I think is a) regional custom of going out on an early morning walk and anointing one’s face with dew drops.