Discovering China: The Dragon Boat Festival

Chinese Festivals – The Dragon Boat Festival

On the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar, Chinese people celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival 端午节 (Duānwǔ jié). During this holiday people commemorate the life and the death of the famous Chinese poet Qu Yuan.


Qu Yuan was a patriotic author during the 5th century B.C., who was serving the State of Chu. When some corrupt ministers slandered him, the Emperor Qingxiang exiled the poet to the regions south of the Yangtze River. In 278 BCE, he was greatly concerned over the corruption in the government and felt powerless to remedy against it, QuYuan drowned himself by attaching a heavy stone to his chest and jumping into the Miluo River.

Dragon Boat Festival in China

Dragon Boat Festival in China

According to a Chinese legend, fishermen rowed dragon boats to recover Qu Yuan’s body and tried to scare away the sea creatures by beating drums and splashing their paddles.

Furthermore they wrapped some rice into triangle silk packages to ward off the dragon that haunted the river so that the monster would not eat the body of the poet.

Since then, every year on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar, Chinese people sympathize with Qu Yuan’s death rowing “Dragon boats” and eating rice dumplings.


Dragon Boat Festival - Race Day!

Dragon Boat Festival – Race Day!

Dragon boat racing can be considered the most important and active during this Festival. Teams of 30 or 60 people paddle wooden dragon shaped boats accompanied by the sound of beating drums.

The boat size can vary by region and is generally about 20–35 meters. It is believed that the winning team will have good luck and have a happy life in the following year.

If you happen to be staying with a Chinese family at an LTL homestay during this festival it’s worth asking them where the nearest race is, pop along, pick a team and cheer them home to victory!


Rice Dumplings - Delicious Food

Rice Dumplings – Delicious Food

There’s no Dragon Boat Festival without sticky rice dumplings. In ancient times these rice dumplings, 粽子(zòngzi), were made from broomcorn millet wrapped in gourd leaves in the shape of a palm leaf heart.

Nowadays they are made from glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or lotus leaves and tied with soaked stalks or colorful silk cords. Zòngzi can be salty or sweet and can contain red beans, vegetables, or meat.filling . Traditions of making these special dumplings vary across different parts of China.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Have a happy Dragon Boat Festival


Find out more about traditional Chinese festivals here:

Discovering China: Mid-Autumn Festival

My First Chinese New Year in China

Tomb Sweeping Festival – Chinese Qīngmíng jié

5 Interesting Facts About Chinese National Day

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