Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional Chinese holiday that falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, which is in late May or June on the Gregorian calendar. In 2023, Dragon Boat Festival falls on June 22 (Thursday).
The renowned Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Tuen Ng, falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. It commemorates the death of Qu Yuan, a Chinese poet and minister known for his patriotism and contributions to classical poetry and who eventually became a national hero.
Dragon Boat Festival is one of the four top traditional Chinese festivals, along with the Spring Festival, Tomb-Sweeping Day, and Mid-Autumn Festival.
The History of The Dragon Boat Festival
Qu Yuan lived during the time of China‘s first feudal dynasties and supported the decision to fight against the powerful state. Though his actions led to his exile, he wrote in order to show his love for the country. Legend has it that Qu Yuan felt such remorse after the capture of his country’s capital that, after finishing his final poem, he waded into the Mi Lo River in today’s Hunan province as a form of protest and despair to the corruption surrounding him.
Upon hearing news of this tragic attempt, villagers took boats and carried dumplings to the middle of the river to try and save Qu Yuan, but their efforts were in vain. They turned to beating drums, splashing water with their paddles, and throwing the rice dumplings into the water – serving as both an offering to Qu Yuan’s spirit, as well as a means to keep the fish and evil spirits away from his body. These rice dumplings became the zongzi we know today, while the search for Qu Yuan’s body became the intense dragon boat races.
The canoes take the form of a traditional Chinese dragon, often painted in fierce vibrant colors that are reminiscent of the old war canoes. The team on board will work together to steer the boat to the finish line as fast as possible, while a member sits at the front and beats a drum to maintain morale and ensure the rowers keep pace and time.
This is one of the main food items eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival. It is a rice dumpling made out of sticky or glutinous rice, wrapped in bamboo leaves to form a pyramid shape that is tied with plant stems. There are also a number of different fillings available, such as egg yolk, lotus seeds, ham, red bean paste, rose, melon, date, chestnut, and pork. Some places even make a mixed sweet and savory filling for the zongzi.
Dragon Boat Races
These are the real highlight of the festival, with the ornately carved boats and fierce painted ‘dragon’ heads and tails. It is a vibrant spectacle that consists of heavy drumming and intense racers as they race to reach the finish line.
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