The Dragon Boat Festival: 2,000 years of tradition

Updated: Jun 11, 2021

Also known as Duanwu Festival, and the fifth day of the fifth moon, the Dragon Boat Festival is a holiday with 2,000 years of tradition celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month of the Chinese calendar. Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the date of this celebration varies between years, so in 2020 it happened on June 7, and this year is celebrated on June 14.

There are many stories about the origin of this celebration, but the most famous are:

  1. The festival is celebrated to ward off bad luck, diseases and pests. During this month people would hang calamus, Artemisia, pomegranate flowers, Chinese Ixora and garlic on their door frames, to keep at bay any evil and protect them during that month. The festival commemorates the death of the poet and minister Qu Yuan (c. 340–278 BC) of the ancient state of Chu during the Warring States period of the Zhou Dynasty. (1) According to the story, the local people who admired him raced in their boats to save him, or at least to retrieve his body from the water, but when they didn't find him they dropped sticky balls of rice in the water for the fish to eat, instead of eating Qu Yuan's body. This is believed to be the origin of zongzi (rice dumplings or sticky rice dumplings)

The traditional activities of the Dragon Boat Festival include Dragon boat racings, making and eating zonghi, eating food related to the number 5, drinking Realgar wine, and braiding 5 colour silk threads as bracelets for children.

Dragon Boat Festival International

On October 30th, 2009 the Dragon Boat Festival was added to the

UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage List(2), and today is celebrated all around the world. In Ontario, the festivities include the Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival, with the participation of thousands of athletes and visitors. Organized by the Toronto Chinese Association, the competition is regarded as an event that promotes heritage, culture, sports and arts, and is been celebrated for 32 years.

At Wind Group we celebrate this day with family and friends, and invite you to join us on June 14th in any of our locations for a year full of good fortune and joy.

Happy Dragon Boat Festival!

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