Chinese Dragon Boat Festival (Duanwu Festival)
The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival has been celebrated for over 2,000 years. A few legends exist about the beginnings of the festival. While some believe that it originated from dragon worship, most accept that it honors poet, Qu Yuan. Upon learning that his Chu State had fallen to the State of Qin, Qu Yuan drowned himself in the Miluo River (on the 5th day of the 5th Chinese lunar month). Local fishermen searched for his body, beating drums to ward off evil spirits and throwing food like zongzi into the river to attract fish and keep them from destroying his body. Qu Yuan’s body was never recovered, so people gather to commemorate him on this day each year.
When: The date of the Dragon Boat Festival changes from year to year. It falls on the 5th day of the 5th month, according to the Chinese lunar calendar. Below is a table listing the dates in the upcoming years.
|Year||Date of Dragon Boat Festival||Holiday|
|2016||June 9||June 9-11|
|2017||May 30||May 28-30|
|2018||June 18||June 16-18|
|2019||June 7||June 7-9|
|2020||June 25||June 25-27|
Where: Dragon boat races take place at many locations throughout China. According to China Highlights, here are four of the “most ceremonious” places:
- The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival: Victoria Harbor, Kowloon, Hong
- Yueyang International Dragon Boat Festival: Miluo River International Dragon Boat Race Center, Yueyang Prefecture, Hunan Province
- Guizhou Dragon Canoe Festival of the Miao Ethnic People: Qingshui River, Taijiang County, Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, Guizhou Province
- Hangzhou Dragon Boat Festival: Xixi National Wetland Park, Tianmushan Road, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province
Dragon Boats: Dragon boat racing comes from the legend of the fishermen who searched for the body of Qu Yuan. These wooden boats are shaped and decorated to look like a Chinese dragon, and can take 30-60 people to paddle it. One team member beats a drum to help the rowers keep in time with one another. The winning team brings harvest and good luck to the people of their village.
Eating Zongzi: Zongzi is a sticky rice dumpling filled with meat or sweetened bean paste and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. The flavors typically vary from region to region and many families will make zongzi themselves as part of the celebration.
Perfume Pouches: Perfume pouches are small, colorful silk bags filled with perfumes and herbal medicines. According to folklore, perfume pouches are worn around the neck to protect children from evil.
Hanging Mugwort and Calamus: Since this festival is held at the beginning of summer, diseases are more prevalent during this time of year. Mugwort and calamuc leaves are hung as they have an aroma which deters mosquitoes and flies, and purifies the air.
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