Dragon Boat Festival. History, Celebration and Traditions

Learn all the details of the Dragon Boat Festival. A celebration of great popularity in China and other regions influenced by this culture.

Dragon Boat Festival
Dragon Boats

What is the Dragon Boat Festival?

The popular Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional festival celebrated in several Asian countries, especially in China and other places with significant Chinese communities.

This festival has a long history and is held annually on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month of the Chinese calendar, which generally falls between May and June in the Gregorian calendar. A fascinating event inside that adds to the great range that Chinese mythology offers us.

What does the Dragon Boat Festival commemorate?

This holiday commemorates the life and death of Chinese poet and patriot Qu Yuan. According to legend, Qu Yuan was a minister of the state of Chu during the Zhou dynasty in the 3rd century BC. When his kingdom was conquered by the state of Qin, Qu Yuan plunged into the Miluo River in protest and despair.

Qu Yuan
Poet Qu Yuan

The people of his village, worried about his death, jumped into the river in boats to search for him, to ward off fish and evil spirits, they began beating drums and throwing bundles of sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves, known as “zongzi”, into the water. Although they were unable to save Qu Yuan, this act became a tradition to remember him.

Pupular celebrations

Today, the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated with dragon boat races, which are long, narrow boats with dragon heads at the bow and tails at the stern. Teams of rowers, usually 20 to 22 people, row to the beat of drums and spectators cheer from the shore.

Dragon Boat Festival
Boat races

In addition to dragon boat races, activities such as lion and dragon dances, parades, cultural displays and traditional zongzi, a popular delicacy made of glutinous rice stuffed with various ingredients, are also held during this festival.

The Dragon Boat Festival is a celebration full of color, folklore and tradition, which unites Chinese communities and attracts numerous visitors interested in witnessing and participating in this unique festivity.

Special meals at the Dragon Boat Festival

During this festival, one of the most outstanding traditional foods is Zongzi. This is a dish wrapped in bamboo leaves, consisting of glutinous rice stuffed with various ingredients and steamed. Fillings may vary by region, but some common ingredients are pork, adzuki beans, walnuts, salted egg yolk, chestnuts, among others. Zongzi is a staple food during this holiday and is consumed both at dragon boat races and in homes.


Other festival delicacies

In addition to zongzi, other typical dishes can also be found during the Dragon Boat Festival, which may vary by region. Some options include:

  • Steamed Cod: Steamed cod is a popular dish during this holiday in some areas. The fish is steamed with ginger, scallions and soy sauce, creating a mild and delicious flavor.
  • Pork buns: These are buns filled with pork meat seasoned with different spices and seasonings. The buns are steamed and are a favorite dish in some regions of the holiday.
  • Glutinous rice cakes: Also known as “Nián Gāo”, these are cakes made of ground glutinous rice and sugar. They can be fried, steamed or grilled, and are considered a traditional sweet of this holiday.

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