Dragon Boat Festival 2024

Dragon Boat Festival 2024

The Dragon Boat Festival is also called Duanwu Festival (duān wǔ jié 端午节/端午節), and is famous for both the Dragon Boat Races and an exiled poet Qu Yuan who committed suicide in the Pre-Qin Period. There is a joke circulating the Web in China: "Karl Marx left us tons of inscrutable texts to rack our brains, and Qu Yuan gave us three days off."

Dragon Boat Festival Infographic
Dragon Boat Festival Infographic

What is the Meaning of the Dragon Boat Festival?

Promote cultural exchanges through the Dragon Boat Festival.

The Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated in different ways around the world. The most important event is the dragon boat race, which has become an international event. Through cultural exchanges during the Dragon Boat Festival, people around the world can quickly understand Chinese culture and history, resolve misunderstandings and barriers.

Promote the building of a harmonious society through the celebration of the Dragon Boat Festival.

The Dragon Boat Festival embodies the concept of harmony between human beings and society, human beings and nature. Activities such as Dragon Boat races, eating zongzi, visiting relatives and friends, and traveling not only bring people closer to nature and relax their minds and bodies, but also enhance their affection, friendship, and love, form a harmonious interpersonal relationship. Especially in the current situation of technological advancement and continuous deterioration of the natural environment, the Dragon Boat Festival can help people establish the concept of "harmony between man and nature", better respect nature, protect the environment, and promote sustainable development of humanity.

The Dragon Boat Festival is about people's longing for a better life. Everyone should have beautiful wishes.

Although the Dragon Boat Festival was once considered an "unlucky day" in terms of natural solar terms, the Chinese people have an inexhaustible spirit of creation, relying on their own wisdom to defeat evil, turning calamity into a blessing, transforming ugliness into beauty. In the past, the decorations during the Dragon Boat Festival, such as the healthy man, bean girl, ai tiger, paint on the forehead, and long-life thread, were all beautiful things created by people in their daily lives. Today, people still need a beautiful life. As long as we have a heart that loves beauty, we will use our hands to create a more colorful and beautiful world.

The Duanwu Festival Dates

Year Date Weekday
2024 June 10 Monday
2025 May 31 Saturday
2026 June 19 Friday
2027 June 9 Wednesday
2028 May 28 Sunday

Click here to see China Public Holiday Calendar

8 interesting things about the Dragon Boat Festival

1. There exist a lot of legends about the Dragon Boat Festival, but actually, the customs of the festival stem from a ceremony of Heaven worship, which pre-dates the commemoration of the ancient poet Qu Yuan.

2. The ancient poet, Qu Yuan, and his patriotism are deeply rooted in people’s minds; therefore, his story is related to this festival.

3. In northern China, people like to climb a mountain during the Dragon Boat Festival, which has a longer history than just the Dragon Boat Race.

4. Zongzi is a typical food enjoyed during the Dragon Boat Festival. Every family soaks bamboo leaves and glutinous rice and wraps them to make zongzi. This custom has even spread to North Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia from China.

5. The idea of rowing the dragon boat is derived from the ancient sacrificial activities in the south of China to pray for a kind climate and the best weather.

6. The earliest record of “Dragon Boat” in the Chinese language can be found in an ancient book in the Pre-Qin Period.

7. The Dragon Boat Festival is also celebrated across East Asia. But in Korea it is known as Dano. It caused an uproar in China when South Korea successfully sought UNESCO recognition for Dano celebrations in the coastal town of Gangneung in 2005. Chinese patriots think that the Koreans appropriated the Chinese holiday.

8. In September, 2009, UNESCO added the Dragon Boat Festival to the Intangible Cultural Heritage List, the first Chinese festival to receive the honor.

Origin and History of the Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, and the accurate time is at noon on the day. It coincides with the annual flood period and midsummer when insects and bacteria breed fast and people easily catch infections. In times gone by, with poor hygiene and limited technology, people could not understand what caused disease. While the climate served up dreadful weather in the fifth lunar month, it was also an important season for the growth of the crops. Thus, the fifth lunar month was considered an unfortunate month. The natural phenomena were regarded as disturbing signs, and ancestors performed a sacrifice to heaven. They thought that the high mountains and the bank of a long river were excellent places for offering sacrifices.

Northern tribes and ethnic groups in mountainous areas of China prayed on the top of mountains, and people in southern areas prayed on the river bank, as they believed that they were descendants of the Chinese dragon (a legendary creature depicted as having a snake-like body with two talons, fish scales, a tail, and two antlers on its head). They rowed the dragon boats in the hope that the real Chinese dragon would appear and protect them.

After the ancient poet Qu Yuan’s great deed touched people deeply, they combined his tale with their customs to commemorate his death.

Who was Qu Yuan?

Poet Qu Yuan

Qu Yuan, a great patriotic and romantic poet, created Chu Ci, which was a new genre of poetry based on the folk songs in the State of Chu in the late Warring States Period (475-211AD). He was of noble birth and engaged in both domestic and foreign affairs. At that time, the State of Qin in the west was bent on annexing the other states, and Qu Yuan asserted that the Chu State should firmly resist Qin, instead allying with the State of Qi to the east. So he was marginalized by other aristocrats and banished from Chu. Eventually, after Qin conquered the State of Chu, Qu Yuan mourned and committed suicide by drowning himself in Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. Legend has it that the Chu people were so affected by his loyalty, that they wanted to save his life and rowed boats on the river to save him, but it didn’t work. Then they started to throw glutinous rice dumplings into the river for feeding the fish, in case his body was eaten. It said that Zongzi were developed from the rice dumplings. Since then, this popular story of Qu Yuan is deemed to be the origin of the Dragon Boat Festival.

Traditional Things to do during the Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon boat festival traditions

Due to a lack of resources, the ancient Chinese used Realgar Wine to disinfect their homes, wore scented sachets containing various herbs, showered with water of wormwood, and a lot of other old customs which are still observed today.

Dragon Boat Racing

The Dragon Boat Racing during the Duanwu Festival is the most festive event. Players paddle furiously and chase each other. Audiences bang drums on the bank. What a bustling and lively scene!

Learn more about Dragon Boat - Rowing since Remote Antiquity

Eating Zongzi

In northern China, people like eating sweet zongzi with red bean and dried jujube paste. However, the folks in southern China prefer their zongzi savory and filled with fatty pork and green bean paste. Dig deeper into Dragon Boat Festival Food.

Wearing Scented Sachets

Scented Sachets are the characteristic ornaments on the Festival, and are filled with aromatic herbs and decorated with exquisite embroidery in various designs. It is believed that hanging scented sachets with five-color silk is able to scare evil away.

Hanging Wormwood on the Door

Wormwood is an herb with a bitter taste and a particular smell, and hanging it on the door is useful for repelling flies, mosquitoes, and insects.

Spraying Realgar Wine

Realgar is an arsenic poison that has an increased effect after mixing with alcohol. Realgar wine is a traditional Chinese drink containing fermented cereals and powered realgar that was used in ancient times.

It is also used as a disinfectant to spray into the corners of the room. Elders dip a finger into realgar wine and write a character on the children’s foreheads and spread it on their ears, noses, hands, and feet. It is believed that it will protect children from harm and diseases. There is an old saying that states, “Drinking realgar wine drives evils and diseases away.” Unfortunately, it is poisonous to drink, as has been proved by modern medicine.

Get more information about What are the popular beverage choices for the modern celebration of the Dragon Boat Festival?

Regional Customs

Duanwu Festival Regional Customs

Climbing a Mountain for Good Fortune

In the north of China, as the fifth lunar month is thought to be a period of misfortune, so that the ancient Chinese people prayed for peace for the next year on top of a mountain. On the way, they collected medicinal herbs such as wormwood and peach branches.

Balancing Eggs

In the southern region of the Yangtze River, balancing eggs is an interesting game for children. It is easier to keep eggs standing up on the day at high noon. People in folk stories think that you will be lucky if you can balance your eggs before noon.

Tying Five-Color Silk

This custom prevails in the north of China, with children tying five-color silk to their hands and feet until the first rainfall during the summer season. People consider that it can protect children from plague and misery.

Dragon Boat Festival around the World

Boston Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival - June 9, 2024

The Boston Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, which began in 1979, is the first dragon boat festival in the United States and played a significant role in increasing the popularity of the sport. With the rise of the festival's success, today, there are over hundreds of dragon boat teams and competitions held all across the country. The sport is one of the fastest-growing in the United States. For additional information on the festival, please visit the official website at https://www.bostondragonboat.org/

Colorado Dragon Boat Festival - July 27th & 28th, 2024

The Sloan's Lake Park's Colorado Dragon Boat Festival has become a highly popular cultural event in Denver. This two-day festival is centered around a dragon boat competition, where over 50 teams of boaters race aboard intricate, colorful dragon boats across Sloan Lake, starting at 8 a.m. and ending at dusk for a full day of competition. However, the festival offers much more than just the races, providing attendees with a range of cultural activities and attractions. For additional information on this festival, please visit the official website at https://www.cdbf.org/

UK Chinese Dragon Boat Festival - June 8-9, 2024

The UK Chinese Dragon Boat Festival is an esteemed event organized by the Xinhua Chinese Association that has experienced significant growth since its inception in June 2012 at MediaCityUK, Salford, Greater Manchester. As a fast-growing festival, it incorporates a diversity of cultural presentations and shows, amateur team dragon boat racing, and authentic cuisine, making it a unique and memorable experience for all participants and spectators. More about this event, please visit official website at https://www.dragonboatfestival.uk/

Dragon Boat Festival in Schwerin, Germany - Auguest 23-25, 2024

For three decades, the Schwerin Dragon Boat Festival has been a premier event, providing spectators with thrilling races, a lively atmosphere, and a range of fantastic supporting activities, ensuring an unforgettable experience for all. Every year, participants and onlookers eagerly converge at Pfaffenteich to witness thrilling races, showcasing the best of the sport. The destination promises an exceptional experience for both players and spectators alike. More details at https://drachenbootfestival.de/

Singapore Dragon Boat Festival - June 22-23, 2024

The Singapore Dragon Boat Festival(SDBF) is an annual event held in Singapore that celebrates the tradition of dragon boat racing. It is considered one of the oldest dragon boat races in Singapore and has been held for more than 30 years. More information at https://sdba.org.sg/

Malaysia 2024 Penang International Dragon Boat Regatta - Nov. 23-24, 2024

The Penang International Dragon Boat Festival committee, also known as PIDBF, cordially invites dragon boat teams from all over the world to participate in the upcoming race, scheduled on December 2nd and 3rd, 2023 at the Teluk Bahang Dam in Penang, Malaysia. It is noteworthy that the Penang State Government endorses this event, ensuring maximum support and security for participants.

Jakarta International Dragon Boat Festival - July 13, 2024

Indonesia is a country with hundreds of islands. There are many ways to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival in this country. The most popular and attractive event is the dragon boat race. During the Dragon Boat Festival in Indonesia, many teams and clubs organize dragon boat races in various places. These races attract the participation of local athletes and audiences, and also attract the attention of many international athletes and tourists.

Korean Jangyeong Festival - From April 15th to May 7th on the lunar calendar

The Dragon Boat Festival has been passed down to Korea for more than 1,500 years. In contrast to the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival, the Korean Jangyeong Festival's primary activities involve making sacrifices to honor local patron gods and heroes, as well as offering an array of mass entertainment events.

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