Dragon Boat Festival

What is the Dragon Boat Festival?

The Dragon Boat Festival, known as Duanwu Jie in Chinese Pinyin, is marked as a traditional cultural holiday in China. It has been celebrated annually in China for more than 2,000 years, in commemoration of the death of Chinese scholar and poet Qu Yuan (340-278 BC).

Qu Yuan, a loyal minister of the King of Chu in the third century BCE, who supported the decision of fighting against the powerful state of Qin, was slandered and subsequently exiled by the king. He composed many famous poems to show his love and passion, as well as anger and sorrow for the suffering of his country and people. At the age of 61, he drowned himself in the river, rather than seeing his country being conquered by Qin.

The people of Chu paddled in their boats down the river to search for his body. Others threw food such as rice dumplings (zongzi) into the river to attract fishes and prevent them from retrieving and eating his body. These activities are said to be the origin of the Dragon Boat Festival.

When is the Dragon Boat Festival?

The Dragon Boat Festival falls on the 5th day of the 5th month according to the Chinese lunar calendar, which is the date Qu Yuan died. The date varies from year to year; however, it usually occurs in late May or early June.

Below you will find the dates of the Dragon Boat Festival in the coming years.




Jun 18


Jun 7


Jun 25


Jun 14


How do the Chinese celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival?

The Chinese imitate the acts of rescuing Qu Yuan to commemorate and show respect for him: eating zongzi (pyramid-shaped sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves), racing in boats in the shape of dragons and drinking realgar wine have become the central customs of the festival.

The Dragon Boat Festival has been celebrated as a public holiday in China since 2008. Today, most people enjoy a three-day holiday to celebrate.

What can I do to create a similar atmosphere?


• Decorations with dragon pattern or shaped items
• Make your own version of zongzi, the pyramid-shaped sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves. Find recipes here


• Happy Dragon Boat Festival – Chinese pinyin: Duān wǔ jié kuài lè端午节快乐
• A printed greeting saying Happy Dragon Boat Festival in Chinese is an easy way to surprise your Chinese guests. 

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