Chinese Dragon Boat Festival
Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated on the fifth day of fifth moon. The proper name for this festival is
the Upright Sun Festival , but foreigners in China referred to it as the Dragon-Boat Festival.
The Fifth Moon Festival was also noted for its dragon-boat races, especially in the southern provinces, where there are many
rivers and lakes. This regatta commemorated the death of Qu Yuan an honest minister who is said to have committed suicide by
drowning himself in a river.
The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival falls on the following dates in the Gregorian calendar:
|Year 2011||Monday||June 6, 2011||Chinese Dragon Boat Festival|
|Year 2012||Saturday||June 23, 2012||Chinese Dragon Boat Festival|
|Year 2013||Wednesday||June 12, 2013||Chinese Dragon Boat Festival|
|Year 2014||Monday||June 2, 2014||Chinese Dragon Boat Festival|
|Year 2015||Saturday||June 20, 2015||Chinese Dragon Boat Festival|
|Year 2016||Thursday||June 9, 2016||Chinese Dragon Boat Festival|
|Year 2017||Tuesday||May 30, 2017||Chinese Dragon Boat Festival|
|Year 2018||Monday||June 18, 2018||Chinese Dragon Boat Festival|
|Year 2019||Friday||June 7, 2019||Chinese Dragon Boat Festival|
|Year 2020||Thursday||June 25, 2020||Chinese Dragon Boat Festival|
Qu Yuan was a minister in the kingdom of Chu situated in present-day Hunan and Hubei provinces, during the Warring States
period (475 -221 BC). He was upright , loyal and highly esteemed for his wise counsel that had brought peace and prosperity
to the kingdom. However, when a dishonest and corrupt prince vilified Qu Yuan, he was disgraced and dismissed from his
office. Realizing that the country was now in the hands of evil and corrupt officials, Qu Yuan clasped a large stone and
leaped into the Mi Lo river on the fifth day of the fifth moon. Nearby fishermen rushed over and tried to save him, but they
were unable even to recover his body. Thereafter , the kingdom declined and was eventually conquered by the kingdom of Qin
The people of Chu, mourning the death of Qu Yuan, threw rice into the river to feed his hungry ghost every year on the fifth
day of the fifth moon. One year, the spirit of Qu Yuan appeared and told the mourners that a huge reptile in the river had
stolen the rice that had been offered. The spirit advised them to wrap the rice in silk and bind it with five different
colored threads before tossing it into the river.
On the Fifth Moon Festival, a glutinous rice pudding called Zongzi was eaten to symbolize the rice offerings to Qu Yuan.
Ingredients such as beans, lotus seeds, chestnuts, pork fat and the golden yolk of a salted duck egg were often added to the
glutinous rice. The pudding was wrapped with bamboo leaves, bound with a sort of raffia and boiled in salt water for hours.
The dragon-boat races represented the attempts to rescue and recover the body of Qu Yuan. A dragon-boat ranged from fifty to
one hundred feet in length with a beam of about five and a half feet, accommodating two paddlers sitting side by side. A
wooden dragonhead was attached at the bow, and a dragon tail at the stern. A banner hoisted on a pole was also fastened at
the stern. The hull was decorated with a design of red, green and blue scales edged in gold. In the center of the boat was a
canopied shrine. Behind the shrine sat drummers, gong-beaters and cymbal-crashers that would set the pace for the paddlers.
Men standing at the bow set off firecrackers, tossed rice into the water and made believe they were looking for Qu Yuan. All
the noise and pageantry created an atmosphere of gaiety and excitement for the participants and spectators. Competitions were
held between different clans, villages and organizations, and winners were awarded medals, banners, jugs of wine and festive
After the races, the wooden head and tail of the dragon were detached and stored either at the clan headquarters or at the
local temple. The hull was buried in the muddy river to prevent cracking, warping and shrinkage. The boats were therefore
reconditioned annually before the festival.
Now, on the fifth day of the lunar fifth moon, all Chinese people celebrate this festival by eating Zongzi.
The taste of Zongzi, a pyramid-shaped dumpling made of glutinous rice and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves to give it a
special flavor, varies greatly across China. Zongzi is often made of rice mixed with dates in Northern China, because dates
are abundant in the area. Eastern China's Jiaxing County is famous for its pork-stuffed Zongzi.In the southern Pro-vince of
Guangdong, people stuff Zongzi with pork, ham, chestnuts and other ingredients, making them very rich in flavor. In Sichuan
Province, Zongzi is usually served with a sugar dressing. Most people still maintain the tradition of eating Zongzi on the
day of the Duanwu Festival. But the special delicacy has become so popular that you can now buy it all the year round.