Dragon Boat Festivals in China

August 13, 2012 by

Festivals & Events, Local Recommendations, Things To Do

Dragon Boat Races

Dragon Boat Races. Photo courtesy of Mark Lehmkuhler via Flickr.

A typical spectacle throughout Asia, dragon boat racing is as enthralling as it sounds, as dozens of racers board these long boats and vie to see who is number one. Perhaps no dragon boating experience is more important than that of the traditional Chinese Dragon Boat Festival, which occurs on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month of the year.

Also known as the Duanwu festival, the dragon boat festival can be seen in tons of Chinese provinces, but more famously in the big cities, particularly Beijing.

In Beijing, the festival is marked by the continuous boat races, which draw tons of locals and visitors from the farthest reaches of China. The festival is also a major draw among foreign visitors, as spectators cheer the participants from both sides of the river in a warm and exciting exchange. The crowds bring the race into the cultural limelight by the simultaneous pounding of traditional drums and the furling of colorful flags being waved all about.

The festival is marked by more than just racing, however, as many Chinese can be seen hanging herbs on their doors or sipping special drinks. Closer to the races, people throw bamboo leaves filled with cooked rice into the water as a sign of respect to their hero poet, Qu Yuan, who drowned on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in 277 B.C.

With regard to eats, the occasion brings on a delightful selection of local foods, including but not limited to Zongzi stuffed with dates, beans, eggs or different kinds of meats.

- John Reality

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