Falling on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar, the Dragon Boat Festival, also known as the Duanwu Festival, is one of the four major traditional Chinese festivals, the other three being the Spring Festival, the Qingming Festival, and the Mid-autumn Festival. With a history of more than 2,000 years, the Dragon Boat Festival commemorates Qu Yuan, a patriotic poet and well-known politician during the Warring States Period (475BC-221BC) who, in despair, drowned himself in the Miluo River in today’s Hunan province. The festival then originated as a search for the poet’s body. This year’s Dragon Boat Festival falls on June 25.
During the festival, Chinese people perform various activities, including dragon boat racing, eating sticky rice dumplings (zongzi), hanging auspicious leaves, etc.
Dragon boat racing is an indispensable part of this festival. Legend has it that this race originates from the efforts to search for Qu Yuan’s body in the river. Today, it has become a popular sport across China and in some other countries. Participants in dragon-shaped boats pull the oars to the rhythm of beating drums, racing towards the destination.
Every year, ECNU’s international dragon boat team participates in the Shanghai International Students Dragon Boat Race and was crowned champion in 2018.
Zongzi is a kind of sticky rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves. Making and eating Zongzi is an important custom during the Dragon Boat Festival. This is also related to Qu Yuan: people threw lumps of rice into the river to keep fish from eating Qu’s body. Zongzi is available to ECNUers in all campus canteens during this June.
The Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated at the start of summer when insects and pests become active. People often put mugwort leaves and calamus on the doors or windows to repel insects, flies, fleas and moths from the house.
Author: Diane Yu
Designer: Yu Yanyi
Copy editor: Philip Nash
Editor: Yu Wenxi