Dragon Boat Festival
With Dragon Boat Festival just around the corner we thought we’d fill you in on everything Dragon Boat.
This year Dragon Boat festival will fall on June 7th, and is a public holiday in China and Hong Kong, but what’s it all about?
There are many myths about how this 2000 year old celebration began. The most popular story is that of Qu Yuan, a famous poet and Chinese official who was exiled during the Warring States period. It is said that he drowned himself rather than see his beloved state of Chu overthrown by the Qin State. Legend has it that local people tried their best to save him and now beat drums and paddle out in boats to keep fish and evil spirits away from his body. It is said that this is how Dragon Boat racing originated.
How it is celebrated
A number of traditions are observed during Dragon Boat festival, some of which are thought to dispel disease and encourage good health.
Hanging Mugwort and Calamas
These two Chinese plants have a fragrant smell and deter mosquitos, they are used medicinally in China and are thought to prevent disease and are hung throughout Dragon Boat festival.
Zongzi are triangle shaped sticky rice dumplings, wrapped in either bamboo or reed leaves. They come with various fillings and usually differ from region to region.
Parents prepare perfume pouches for their children, usually to be worn around the neck. They are meant to protect them from evil spirits.
Drinking Realgar Wine
This one is probably more for the adults than the kids. Realgar wine is an alcoholic drink made from fermented cereals and powdered realgar. It was formerly believed the be an antidote for all poisons, as well as a way to keep evil spirits at bay.
Dragon Boat Racing
As the name of the festival would suggest, Dragon Boat races are a major part of the celebration. Long, thin, brightly coloured and ornately decorated boats filled with 20 paddlers race to reach the finish line fastest. It is highly competitive and highly entertaining to watch. Races generally consist of between 4 and 6 boats, most commonly over 200m or 500m.
Where to watch
There will be dragon boats races throughout Hong Kong China and now all round the world. Here are some top picks.
Hong Kong – Victoria Harbor
Hangzhou – Xixi Wetland
Yueyang – Henan Province
Shanghai – Suzhou Creek
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