Start Planning
Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Festival 2017 and 2018

The Dragon Boat Festival, or Duanwu Festival, is celebrated every year on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.

YearDateDayHoliday
201729 MayMonDragon Boat Festival
30 MayTueDragon Boat Festival
201818 JunMonDragon Boat Festival

While seeing family and friends, watching the dragon boat races and eating rice dumplings make for fond memories, the holiday actually celebrates a very somber occasion. Qu Yuan, a famous Chinese scholar, who lived in the third century BCE and served the king of Chu, was smart – perhaps too smart. His peers, tired of his wisdom, accused him of crimes that he didn’t commit. Exiled and distraught, Qu Yuan composed many hateful and sorrowful poems before drowning himself at the age of 61.

Chu citizens jumped in their boats to search for him, but it was to no avail. Dragon boat races are held to this day in order to remember this failed attempt. Teams go against one another and try to reach a flag first, but before the race begins, each boat must have its dragon’s eyes painted in order to bring the boat to life. After failing to save Qu Yuan, citizens took to throwing rice into the river in which he had drowned. They wrapped the rice in leaves with hopes that it might keep the fish from eating his body. While no one today still hopes of saving Qu Yuan’s body, the rice wrapped in leaves has become a tradition and is eaten during the festival. The food is called Zongzi.

The Dragon Boat Festival, meant to honor the dead and be enjoyed by the living, has other fun traditions that are observed. For instance, it has been said that if you can balance a raw egg on its end at noon on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, you will have good fortune for the remainder of the year.