People celebrate upcoming Dragon Boat Festival across China

People celebrate upcoming Dragon Boat Festival across China

Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival, is a traditional and important celebration in China.

Dragon Boat Festival 2019 falls on June 7 (Friday). China will have 3 days of holiday from Friday (June 7) to Sunday (June 9), and we will be back at work on Monday , June 10.

Simple Facts to Understand Dragon Boat Festival

  • Chinese: 端午节 Duānwǔ Jié /dwann-woo jyeah/ ‘start [of the] fifth traditional solar month festival’
  • Date: month 5 day 5 of the Chinese lunar calendar
  • History: over 2,000 years
  • Celebrations: dragon boat racing, health-related customs, honoring Qu Yuan and others
  • Popular festival food: sticky rice dumplings (zongzi)

When is the Dragon Boat Festival 2019

The Dragon Boat Festival date is based on the lunar calendar, therefore the date varies from year to year on the Gregorian calendar.

Dragon Boat Festival Dates (2019–2022)

2019June 7
2020June 25
2021June 14
2022June 3

What Is China’s Dragon Boat Festival?

The Dragon Boats

Colorfully-painted dragon boats

It’s a traditional festival full of traditions and superstitions, maybe originating from dragon worship; an event on the sporting calendar; and a day of remembrance/worship for Qu Yuan, Wu Zixu, and Cao E.

The festival has long been a traditional holiday in China.

On May 20th 2006 it was selected into the first batch of National Intangible Cultural Heritage items.

In 2008 it was first celebrated as a public holiday in China.

On October 30th 2009 it was added to the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

Why Dragon Boat Racing is Held for the Day?

Dragon boat racing is said to originate from the legend of people paddling out on boats to seek the body of patriotic poet Qu Yuan (343–278 BC), who drowned himself in a River.

Dragon boat racing is the most important activity during the Dragon Boat Festival.

The wooden boats are shaped and decorated in the form of a Chinese dragon. The boat size varies by region. Generally it is about 20–35 meters in length and needs 30–60 people to paddle it.

During the races, dragon boat teams paddle harmoniously and hurriedly, accompanied by the sound of beating drums. It is said that the winning team will have good luck and a happy life in the following year.

Where to See Dragon Boat Racing

Dragon boat racing has become an important competitive sport. Many places in China hold dragon boat races during the festival. Here we recommend the four most ceremonious places.

Dragon Boat Racing in Hong Kong

A dragon boat in the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival.

  • The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival: Victoria Harbor, Kowloon, Hong Kong
  • Yueyang International Dragon Boat Festival: Yueyang Prefecture, Hunan Province
  • Guizhou Dragon Canoe Festival of the Miao Ethnic People: Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, Guizhou Province
  • Hangzhou Dragon Boat Festival: Xixi National Wetland Park, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province

How Chinese People Celebrate the Festival

Duanwu Festival(Dragon Boat Festival) is a folk festival celebrated for over 2,000 years, when Chinese people practice various customs thought to dispel disease, and invoke good health.

Dragon boat racing

Some of the most traditional customs include dragon boat racing, eating sticky rice dumplings (zongzi), hanging Chinese mugwort and calumus, drinking realgar wine, and wearing perfume pouches.

Now many of the customs are disappearing, or no longer observed. You are more likely to find them practiced in rural areas.

Eating Sticky Rice Dumplings

Zongzi (粽子zòngzi /dzong-dzuh/) is the most traditional Dragon Boat Festival food. It is related to Qu Yuan commemoration, as the legend says that lumps of rice were thrown into the river to stop fish eating his drowned body.

Zongzi

Zongzi

They are a kind of sticky rice dumpling made of glutinous rice filled with meats, beans, and other fillings.

Zongzi is wrapped in triangle or rectangle shapes in bamboo or reed leaves, and tied with soaked stalks or colorful silky cords.

The flavors of zongzi are usually different from one region to another across China. 

Drinking Realgar Wine

There is an old saying: ‘Drinking realgar wine drives diseases and evils away!’ Realgar wine is a Chinese alcoholic drink consisting of fermented cereals and powdered realgar.

In ancient times, people believed that realgar was an antidote for all poisons, and effective for killing insects and driving away evil spirits. So everyone would drink some realgar wine during Duanwu Festival.

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