Monday, 2 April 2018

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Dragon Boat Festival 2018

Dragon Boat Racing a tradition that observed annually over 2,000 years in China.
Dragon Boat Festival 2018 falls on June 18 (Monday). The holiday in China starts from June 16 to 18, 2018. Happy Dragon Boat Festival...Everyone :)

Welcome to Dragon Boat Festival 2018 

Quick Facts about Dragon Boat Festival: also called Duanwu or Tuen Ng Festival, is a traditional holiday observed annually over 2,000 years in China to commemorate Qu Yuan (340-278 BC), an ancient Chinese patriotic poet. Originated from south China, Dragon Boat Festival enjoys higher popularity in southern areas, such as Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Fujian Provinces.

The Dragon Boat Festival, the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, has had a history of more than 2,000 years. It is usually in June in the Gregorian calendar.

 Dragon Boat Festival - Contents

    1. About Dragon Boat Festival 2018
    2. Origin and History of Dragon Boat Festival
      1. The Legend of Qu Yuan
      2. Names and Tradition of Dragon Boat Festival in Asia
    3. Dragon Boat Festival Holidays
    4. Traditions and Customs of Dragon Boat Festival
      1. Dragon Boat Racing
      2. Zongzi
      3. Realgar Wine
      4. Tying 5-colored silk-threaded braid
      5. Hanging Mugwort Leaves and Calamus
      6. Other Foods related to Dragon Boat Festival
    5. See also

Dragon Boat Festival 2018

The Dragon Boat Festival, also often known, especially in China, as the Duanwu Festival, is a traditional holiday originating in China, occurring near the summer solstice. This Year, we are celebrating Dragon Boat Festival on Monday, June 18, 2018. In mainland China, the Dragon Boat Festival is also known as Zhongxiao Festival, commemorating fealty and filial piety. 

The festival now occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month of the traditional Chinese calendar, which is the source of the festival's alternative name, the Double Fifth Festival. We have to remember that the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, so the date of the festival varies from year to year on the Gregorian calendar. 

In 2018, the Dragon Boat Festival will occur on June 18; and in 2019, on Friday, 7 June.

Calendar of Dragon Boat Festival:

2017May 30May 28 - 30
2018June 18June 16 - 18
2019June 7June 7 - 9
2020June 25June 25 - 27
2021June 14June 12 - 14
2022June 3June 3 - 5

Origin & History of Dragon Boat Chinese Festival 

As we all know, the real highlight of the Dragon Boat Festival in china is the fierce-looking dragon boats racing in a lively, vibrant spectacle. However, there is a long history of Dragon Boat Festival tradition as it communicated through thousands of generations. 

Origin & History of Dragon Boat Festival: Why is the Dragon Boat Festival celebrated? With a history over 2,000 years, it used to be a hygiene day when people would use herbs to dispel diseases and viruses. However, the most popular origin is closely related to the great poet Qu Yuan in the Warring States Period (475 – 221 BC). To engrave his death on the fifth day on the fifth lunar month of chinese calendar, people celebrate the festival in various ways. Great people like Wu Zixu and Cao E also died on the same day, so in certain areas, people also commemorate them during the festival.
Legend of Qu Yuan and the History of Dragon Boat Festival in China

Today, the story best known in China holds that the festival commemorates the death of the poet and minister Qu Yuan (c. 340–278 BC) of the ancient state of Chu during the Warring States period of the Zhou Dynasty. Qu Yuan highly original and imaginative verse had an enormous influence on early Chinese poetry.

Qu Yuan advocated the unpopular policy of resistance to Qin Dynasty (the first dynasty of Imperial China), the most powerful of the Warring States, causing his rival courtiers to intrigue successfully against him. Estranged from the throne through the malice of his rivals, Qu Yuan was banished to the south of the Yangtze River by Huaiwang’s successor, Qingxiangwang.

In despair over his banishment, Qu Yuan wandered about the southern Chu, writing poetry and observing the shamanistic folk rites and legends that greatly influenced his works. He eventually drowned himself in despair in the Miluo River, a tributary of the Yangtze. The Dragon Boat Festival, held on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar year, originated as a search for the poet’s body. During his exile, Qu Yuan wrote a great deal of poetry. Twenty-eight years later, Qin captured Ying, the Chu capital. In despair, Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River.

It is said that the local people, who admired him, raced out in their boats to save him, or at least retrieve his body. This is said to have been the origin of dragon boat races. When his body could not be found, they dropped balls of sticky rice into the river so that the fish would eat them instead of Qu Yuan's body. This is said to be the origin of Zongzi.

The Legend of Qu Yuan and Dragon Boat Festival: As a minister in the State of Chu - one of the seven Warring States, Qu Yuan was a patriotic poet who wrote a lot of works to show his care and devotion to his country. Composing masterpieces like Li Sao (The Lament), he was regarded as one of the greatest poets in Chinese history. After he was exiled by the king, he chose to drown himself in the river rather than seeing his country invaded and conquered by the State of Qin. He died on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, thus people decided to commemorate him on that day every year.

The works of Qu Yuan have survived in an early anthology, the Chuci (Eng. trans. The Songs of the South, 1959; also translated as Elegies of the South, 2011), much of which must be attributed to later poets writing about the legendary life of Qu Yuan. 

However, there are few different theories on the early history of Dragon Boat Festival. According to such theory, advanced by Wen Yiduo (c. 1899 –1946 - a prominent Chinese poet and scholar), is that the Dragon Boat Festival originated from Dragon Worship. 

His conclusion is drawn from two key traditions of the dragon boat festival: the tradition of dragon boat racing and zongzi. The food may have originally represented an offering to the dragon king, while dragon boat racing naturally reflects a reverence for the dragon and the active yang energy associated with it. This was merged with the tradition of visiting friends and family on boats.

The Traditional "Dragon Boat Festival," English name directly translates into two alternative Chinese names for the holiday, 龍船節 (Lóngchuánjié) and 龍舟節 (Lóngzhōujié). These are the official Chinese name of the festival and these names for Dragon Boat Festival are also used in Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao.

In Mandarin, it is romanized as Duānwǔjié on the mainland and Taiwan. All of these names refer to its original position in the traditional Chinese calendar, which was also known as 午 (Wǔ). 

The People's Republic of China use "Dragon Boat Festival" as the official English translation of the holiday, and is globally recognized with this name. Among Malaysian, Singaporean, and Taiwanese Hokkien speakers, the festival is also known as the "Fifth Month Festival," the "Fifth Day Festival," and the "Dumpling Festival." In Indonesian, the festival is known as "Peh Cun", which is derived from Hokkien (扒船; pê-chûn).

Dragon Boat Festival Holidays

The Dragon Boat festival was long marked as a cultural festival in China and is a public holiday in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau. The People's Republic of China government established in 1949, however, did not officially recognize Dragon Boat Festival or Duanwu Festival (In Chinese) as a public holiday. 

However, beginning in 2005, the government began to plan for the recognition of three traditional holidays, including Duanwu. Since 2008, Duanwu has been celebrated not only as a festival but also as a public holiday in the People's Republic of China. It is unofficially observed by the Chinese communities of Southeast Asia, including Singapore and Malaysia. Equivalent and related official festivals include the Japanese holiday of Children's Day (Japan).

Tradition and Customs of Dragon Boat Festival 

Three of the most widespread activities conducted during the Dragon Boat Festival is eating (and preparing) Zongzi, drinking Realgar Wine and Racing Dragon BoatsMany traditional customs and activities are held on the specified day by people in China and even by people in neighboring Asian countries. Dragon boat racing and eating Zongzi are the central customs of the festival. In some regions in China, people also wear a perfume pouch, tie five-color silk thread and hang mugwort leaves or calamus on their doors.

Dragon Boat Racing

Dragon Boat Racing during Dragon Boat Festival in China.

Celebrate inspiring eastern traditions with treasures from the Far East, during the Dragon Boat Festival - the Dragon boat racing has a rich history of ancient ceremonial and ritualistic traditions, which originated in southern central China more than 2500 years ago. As we discussed early, the legend starts with the story of Qu Yuan, who was a minister in one of the Warring State governments, Chu. 

He was slandered by jealous government officials and banished by the king. Out of disappointment in the Chu monarch, he drowned himself into the Miluo river. The common people rushed to the water and tried to recover his body. 

In commemoration of Qu Yuan, people hold dragon boat races yearly on the day of his death according to the legend. They also scattered rice into the water to feed the fish, to prevent them from eating Qu Yuan's body, which is one of the origins of zongzi. Today, Rowing teams competing in a race during the annual Dragon Boat Festival to commemorate the traditional event in a more sporty manner. 

The traditional Chinese legend holds that the race originates from the idea of the people who rowed their boats to save Qu Yuan after he drowned himself. Now it has turned to be a sports event not only held in China, but also observed in Japan, Vietnam, and Britain.

Dragon boats are thus named because the fore and stern of the boat are in a shape of a traditional Chinese Dragon. A team of people works the oars in a bid to reach the destination before other teams. One team member sits at the front of the boat beating a drum in order to maintain morale and ensure that the rowers keep in time with one another. 

The best places to experience the dragon boat races during the festival are:

a. Yueyang International Dragon Boat Race: Miluo River Dragon Boat Race Center, Yueyang, Hunan
b. Zigui Dragon Boat Racing: Xujiachong Bay, Zuigui County, Yichang, Hubei
c. Miao People’s International Canoe Festival: Qingshui River, Guizhou
d. Hangzhou Xixi Dragon Boat Race: Xixi Wetland Park


Most Chinese festivals are observed by eating a particular food as a custom, and the Dragon Boat Festival is no exception. Zongzi, a pyramid-shaped glutinous rice dumpling wrapped in reed leaves, is the special food eaten on the day. A notable part of celebrating China's annual Duanwu (Dragon Boat) Festival include the featured activity for Duanwu is making and eating zongzi with other family members. People traditionally wrap zongzi in leaves of bamboo, lotus or banana which give a special aroma and flavor to the sticky rice and fillings. 

Choices of fillings vary depending on regions. Northern regions in China prefer sweet or dessert-styled zongzi, with bean paste, dates and nuts as fillings. Southern regions in China prefer savory zongzi, with a variety of fillings including marinated pork belly, chicken, sausage and salted duck eggs. Nowadays, Zongzi already becomes a common food, which can be easily found in supermarkets. However, some families still retain the tradition to make Zongzi on the festival day. 

The custom of eating zongzi is now popular in North and South Korea, Japan and Southeast Asian nations. Zongzi are considered as a symbol of luck, as the pronunciation of zong is very similar to the pronunciation of zhong. 

Realgar Wine

Realgar Wines part of a traditional Chinese alcoholic drink used during Dragon Boat Racing.

Realgar wine is a Chinese alcoholic drink that is made from Chinese yellow wine dosed with powdered realgar, a yellow-orange arsenic sulfide mineral. Realgar is often used as a pesticide against mosquitoes and other insects during the hot summers, and as a common antidote against poison in ancient Asia. The Realgar Wine consists of Chinese cereal wine and dosed with powdered realgar, a yellow-orange arsenic sulfide mineral.

Wearing a Perfume Pouch and Tying Five-color Silk Thread

According to folklore, wearing the perfume pouch protects children from evil. So on this day, children decorate their clothes with diversely fragranced pouches. It is a kind of small pouch made of the colorful silk cloth stringed with five-color silk thread. Another custom is to tie five-color silk thread to a child's wrists, ankles, and around their neck. 

Five-color thread holds special significance in that it is thought to contain magical and healing properties. Children are not permitted to speak while their parents tie the five-color thread for them, neither are they allowed to remove it until the specified time. Only after the first summer rainfall can the children throw the thread into the river. This is thought to protect the children from plague and diseases.

Hanging Mugwort Leaves and Calamus

The festival is held during summer when all kinds of diseases can prevail, so people clean their houses and put mugwort leaves and calamus on the top of the doors to discourage disease. It is said that the stem and the leaves of these plants discharge a special aroma which can dispel the mosquitoes, flies and purify the air, so this custom is an understandably popular one.

Other Foods related to Dragon Food Festival:

Other Chinese Foods and Traditions as part of Dragon Boat Festival. 

Ricefield Eel

Eel is another delicacy that people enjoy much during the festival. Especially the eel in the rice field, is most tender and nutritive at that time. For people in southern China, eel is as important as Zongzi on Dragon Boat Festival. Eel is usually stewed with tofu and mushrooms, and the soup tastes tender and sweet. Braising with garlic is also another popular way to cook eel.


Dagao is a kind of cake made of mugwort and boiled sticky rice. Thump the boiled rice repeatedly for a long time and make it become a paste. Dip it in sugar or honey, it becomes the most popular local food, which is glutinous and chewy. Now, in Yanbian area of Jilin Province in northeast China, people get used to having Dagao during the Dragon Boat Festival.

Tea Eggs

In Jiangxi Province, boiling chicken eggs with tea is an old tradition. Some areas will also use duck or goose eggs, and after fully cooked, the eggs will be painted in red on the shell and then put into a net bag. It is believed that hanging the eggs on children's necks would help to defuse the bad luck and misfortune.

Garlic Eggs

In Henan and Zhejiang Provinces, boiled garlic eggs would be people's breakfast on the festival day, for the eggs boiled with garlic are regarded as alexipharmic to dispel away poisonous insects.


Jiandu is a kind of fried glutinous ball made of wheat or sticky rice flour, with sesame on the surface. According to the folklore, the raining season before the Dragon Boat Festival was caused by the holes in the Heaven, and Jiandui can fill up these holes. Therefore, people eat the glutinous balls to stop the rain. In Fujian Province in southeast China, the celebration of eating Jiandui is widely kept.


In Wenzhou area along China's east coast, people will eat thin pancakes on the festival. When the soft and thin pancakes are finished, roll them with inside fillings like Chinese chives, diced fry-eggs, mushrooms, and meat. And then eat the wrapped bundles, which enable people to taste different flavors just in one bite.


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