Dragon Boat Festival

Fifth Date of the fifth month of the lunar calendar

The Dragon Boat Festival, or Duan Wu Jie, falls on June 12th.

Dragon Boat Bow

Dragon Boat Bow by Russ Glasson, via Flickr

It is widely held that the Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the Chinese patriotic poet Qu Yuan (340-278 B.C.), who drowned himself rather than see his homeland invaded by a warring state. However, according to Yuan Chang-rue, a folklorist and professor at the Graduate School of Folk Culture and Arts, “[i]n ancient times, the Dragon Boat Festival, celebrated in early summer, reminded people that the ‘poison season’ of May, June and July, is beginning…” and was associated with health and well-being. The Dragon Boat races were enacted to expel the “water ghosts,” and, more practically, “designed to educate people to be careful when playing in water during the warmer weather.” Today, the boat races remain a highlight of the festival, which is also celebrated by eating zongzi, a glutinous rice stuffed with various fillings.