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Dragon Boat Festival

Date of Dragon Boat Festival 2015: 20th June

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One of the important Chinese traditional festivals is the Dragon Boat Festival which falls on the 5th day of 5th lunar month in the Chinese calendar. It has been held annually for more than 2,000 years and is notable for its educational influence. In 2008 it was enforced that Chinese people are even allowed to take a day off in order to commemorate the Chinese ancient culture. Besides the holiday, many kinds of activities are held to commemorate a patriotic Chinese poet named Quyuan who loved his country and cared strongly about the future for his country.

The legend of the Dragon Boat Festival

As a minister of the ancient state of Chu in the period of Warring States, Quyuan suggested to his king to resist the idea of creating an alliance with the already powerful Qin (another state), so that Chu and the other states’ power wouldn't be overthrown. At first the emperor, Chuhuaiwang, agreed with this proposition and gave him the power to arrange the political work.  

Despite this, there were those who disagreed with his theory, as well as many who were desperate to have his level of authority and power, leading to a growing campaign of those who wanted him banished.

In spite of his previous view, the king eventually decided to ally with the state of Qin. Quyuan was then immediately banished from the state for opposing the alliance and due to the act of treason. Even though he wrote a vast amount of poetry after he was alienated, his depression overcame him as he drowned himself in the Miluo River. The local people, who loved and respected him, raced their boats as quickly as they could down the river in order to try and rescue Quyuan, but it was to be to no avail. This is said to be the origin of dragon boat racing.

They were unable to find his body, but out of respect, the locals threw balls of rice into the river in the hope that the fish would eat this instead of the body. This is said to be the origin of zongzi.

Dragon Boat Festival activities

Boat racing

This activity is held annually in the south of China in the 5th lunar month. The name ‘dragon boat’ derives from the fact that the boat resembles a dragon, with a dragon’s head and tail. Dozens of people compete in the races, with the first to finish naturally winning the competition. It is said that the winning team will bring good fortune and happy lives to the people of their village. Many universities host this event in the south but not in the north. Many dragon boat race events also take place in Hong Kong and Taiwan. 

Nowadays, some ethnic minorities in China like the Miao and Dai also hold dragon boat races. Japan, Vietnam, and even Great Britain regard it as a fun and important cultural event.

Eating Zongzi

The food eaten during this period is called zongzi, which is made of rice and sometimes Chinese dates to give it a sweet taste. Adaptations of the flavour of the zongzi also include, for example, salty and spicy. The ingredients include rice, meat, bean paste, raisins and peanuts, among others.

Future Dragon Boat Festival dates:

Dragon Boat Festival in 2015 falls on Jun 20, 2015.

                     in 2016 falls on Jun 9, 2016.

                     in 2017 falls on May 31, 2017.

                     in 2018 falls on Jun 18, 2018.

                     in 2019 falls on Jun 7, 2019.

                     in 2020 falls on Jun 25, 2019.