Everything you want to know about the Dragon Boat Festival

Chinese Culture

Gragon boat
A dragon boat in the race at Tai O, south China’s Hong Kong. Photo: Xinhua

The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu jie, is celebrated annually on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, which is June 9 this year. It’s one of the most important traditional Chinese festivals, and it has been celebrated for thousands of years.


Who does this festival commemorate?

The holiday commemorates Qu Yuan, a Chinese poet and patriot who lived from 340-278 BCE. He was very concerned about the fate of the Chu state and when he learned of the capture of his state’s capital by the state of Qin, he committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River.

People commemorate Wu Zixu in Suzhou

The death of Wu Zixu is seen by some as the origin of the Dragon Boat Festival. He was a loyal advisor and general during the Spring and Autumn era – approximately 771 to 476 BC – in ancient China, but was forced by his king to commit suicide after the two had a disagreement. His body was thrown into a river on the fifth day of the fifth month on the Chinese lunar calendar. Sympathetic locals held dragon boat races in his memory. In places such as Suzhou in Jiangsu Province, Wu is still remembered during the Dragon Boat Festival. Take a look at the activities Wu’s descendants hold to commemorate him.

The Dragon Boat

How do people make a dragon boat?

The traditional water sport or dragon boat racing remains popular as ever. So is the traditional boat making.

Macho men move world’s longest wooden dragon boat to river

It needed 1600 muscled men to lift and carry a 77.8-meter-long wooden dragon boat to a river in Shibing county, southwest China’s Guizhou Province on Saturday. The dragon boat is looking to set a new Guinness World Record as the longest wooden dragon boat. Tens of thousands of locals and visitors came to watch the spectacular event, which saw the burly men take almost one hour to walk the one-kilometer distance to the river.


Single bamboo drifting

As the Dragon Boat Festival approaches, people in Yizhou City of south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region are busy preparing for a unique and traditional sport called single bamboo drifting. Single bamboo drifting is a folk sport originating from certain ethnic minorities in China. Athletes need to stand on a bamboo pole, and steer it with a thin stick in their hands while performing stunts such as jumping and the splits.

Making perfume sachets


On this special day, people eat zongzi, sticky rice with meat and other fillings wrapped in bamboo leaves. People tossed zongzi into the river in order to prevent fish from eating Qu Yuan’s body.

How to make a Zongzi?

Zongzi has different fillings depending on the region in China. Glutinous rice and filling are wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. Wrapping zongzi quickly and neatly is a art that has been passed down over generations in many Chinese families.

Try it yourself!

It’s fun to make, and even more enjoyable to eat. You can also try different fillings, or create your own version!

In other parts of the world

Chinese peacekeepers in Lebanon mark “Duanwu Festival” with time-honored traditions

For those who are far away from home, homesickness seems to be inevitable, especially during traditional festivals they used to celebrate with families. And Chinese UN peacekeepers are no exception.

Tastes of Zongzi in Bangkok

What’s Dragon Boat festival like in Canada and the U.S.?

Though far from China, many cities in North America held different celebrations, including Toronto, Houston and New York.

People in Australia celebrate Dragon Boat Festival

Over a hundred people of Chinese origin living in Canberra, Australia make Zongzi to celebrate Dragon Boat Festival.

People around the world participates in the activities while in China

Story compiled with information from CCTV News and Xinhua.