Toll Free - U.S.& Canada:  1-800-791-9386   Hong Kong:  800-930-623   Australia:  1-800-779-835
Free online Chinese learning support
  • Follow us on Facebook!
  • Watch Our YouTube Videos!
  • Follow us on Twitter!
  • Follow us on WeChat!
    Follow Us in WeChat by Scanning!
    Follow Us in "WeChat"
    by Scanning
  • Follow us on LinkedIn
  • Explore Our Instagram Videos & Photos!
United Kingdom:  0-800-086-8969   Germany:  0-800-180-0341   Singapore:  800-130-1652
France:  0-805-080-689   Spain:  900-838-906    

What is the Dragon Boat Festival?

Jun. 2, 2022

Dragon Boat Festival, or Duanwu Festival, falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month each year. In September 2009, the festival became China’s first to be chosen for UNESCO’s world intangible cultural heritage list. There are a wide variety of celebrations which demonstrate athletic prowess and local folk traditions.

HSK 3 quiz

Jié rì (节日): n. Festival

Example:

Duān wǔ jié shì zhōng guó zuì zhòng yào de jié rì zhī yī.
端       午 节  是   中       国  最     重     要   的 节 日 之 一。
The Dragon Boat Festival is one of the most important festivals in China.

On the day of the Dragon Boat Festival, people greet each other by saying “端午节安康” (duān wǔ jié ān kāng), which means wishing you peace and health for Dragon Boat Festival. You can also say this to your Chinese friends on the upcoming festival!

Example:

Duān wǔ jié ān kāng.
端       午 节 安   康。
Wishing someone peace and health for Dragon Boat Festival.

There are various legends about the festival, but the most widely-accepted one is about Qu Yuan, a patriotic poet of the State of Chu during the Warring States Period (475-221B.C.).

Qu Yuan was a patriotic poet and exiled official during the Warring States Period of ancient China. He drowned himself in the Miluo River on the 5th day of the 5th Chinese lunar month, when his beloved Chu State fell to the State of Qin.

Locals then paddled to the river to search for him, and threw jiaoshu (or zongzi, a kind of sticky rice dumpling) and other food into the river to keep fish and other creatures in the water from devouring Qu Yuan’s body.

Later, to commemorate this patriotic poet, people commemorate Qu Yuan every year on lunar May fifth by dragon boat racing and eating zongzi, which is the origin of Dragon Boat Festival and two most important customs of the festival.

HSK 3 quiz

Chuán tǒng(传统): adj./n. Traditional/ tradition

Example:

Duān wǔ jié shì zhōng guó de chuán tǒng jié rì.
端       午 节 是     中     国   的    传      统   节 日。
The Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional Chinese festival.

The most traditional food to eat on the day of the Dragon Boat Festival, of course, is zòng zi (粽子), which evolved gradually from the food for worship. Zongzi is usually wrapped in triangular or rectangular shapes with bamboo leaves. It’s made with glutinous rice with sweet or savory fillings.

HSK 3 quiz

Zòng zi(粽子): n. Traditional Chinese rice-pudding

Example:

Duān wǔ jié chī shén me?
端       午 节 吃    什   么?
What do people eat on the Dragon Boat Festival?

Duān wǔ jié chī zòng zǐ.
端       午 节 吃    粽   子。
People eat zongzi on the Dragon Boat Festival.

Besides eating zongzi, during the holidays of the Duanwu Festival, people would hang mugwort and calamus on the door, drink realgar wine or xióng huáng jiǔ (雄黄酒) in Chinese, wear five-color threads on their wrists, and carry incense bags with them. All of them have the wisdom and experience of the ancient virtues.

Among the customs, drinking realgar wine on the day was extremely popular in the Yangtze River Basin area in the past. Realgar wine is a kind of liquor or yellow rice wine with realgar powder. Realgar can be used as an antidote and insecticide. Ancients believed that realgar could restrain snakes and scorpions and other kinds of insects. On the morning of the Dragon Boat Festival, people also rubbed realgar wine on children’s nostrils and earholes to sterilize the area and avoid insect bites.

HSK 3 quiz

Xióng huáng jiǔ (雄黄酒): n. Realgar wine

Example:

Duān wǔ jié hē shén me?
端       午 节 喝    什   么?
What do people drink on the Dragon Boat Festival?

Duān wǔ jié hē xióng huáng jiǔ.
端       午 节 喝    雄       黄    酒。
People drink realgar wine on the Dragon Boat Festival.

Grand dragon boat race is held every year on every Dragon Boat Festival across China. This folk activity has been passed down from generation to generation, dating back more than 2,000 years. Today, China’s dragon boat racing has developed from local activity into a grand sports event and even became an international sporting event. There are more than 85 countries and regions in the world that hold dragon boat races annually.

Dragon boats are long and thin. Although the size of the boats and their crews can vary, in most cases, the crew consists of 20 paddlers who sit side-by-side in pairs facing the bow. There is also a drummer who sits at the bow of the boat facing the paddlers.

During a race, the drummer leads the paddlers by beating rhythmically on a drum. In addition to the drummer, there is also a steerer who sits in the back of the boat and helps to steer it using a long steering oar.

HSK 3 quiz

Sài lóng zhōu (赛龙舟): n. Dragon boat race

Example:

Duān wǔ jié zuò shén me?
端       午 节 做    什   么?
What do people do on the Dragon Boat Festival?

Duān wǔ jié sài lóng zhōu.
端       午 节 赛    龙    舟。
People participate in dragon boat races on the Dragon Boat Festival.

Dragon Boat Festival is just one of many fascinating Chinese holidays with roots stretching back into the distant past. If you’d like to learn more about China’s many ancient holidays and traditions, you can also explore other traditional holidays like the Qingming Festival (Tomb-Sweeping Day) and the Qixi Festival (Chinese Valentine’s Day). Learning about these traditional festivals is a fun and interesting way to enrich your understanding of Chinese culture.

You May Want to Learn More :

“The Chinese Boat with a Dragon’s Heartbeat”

“Don’t Say Happy Dragon Boat Festival!”

”Chinese Dragon Boat Festival”

HSK 1 quiz

Got questions? Take a free 1-to-1 lesson with one of our professional teachers by signing up below:
Name: 
E-mail: 
Country/Region: 
-select-

search no result

Tel: 
By clicking Submit, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
Your email address and phone number
will be kept STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL.
Submit

Write a comment

Your Name: 
Your Email:  Your email address will not be published.
Comments: 
Verification Code:  Verification Code Unclear? Try another one
By clicking Submit, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
Email This Article
Recipients' email addresses:
(separate recipients with comma)
Your name:
Your e-mail address (optional):
Your message (optional):
Verification Code:
By clicking Send, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.


Get 11 FREE Mandarin E-books
Sign up for a free trial now!
Get more information about our Chinese lessons through live chat
Get a FREE live 1-to-1 lesson and FREE e-books. Complete the form below:
Name:
E-mail:
Country/Region:
-select-

search no result

Tel:
By clicking Submit, you agree to our
Terms of Service
and Privacy Policy.
Your email address and phone number
will be kept STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL.