Chinese traditional festivals and customs: Dragon boat racing in the Dragon Boat Festival

2019-05-30 15:34:05 source: Zhejiang Provincial Government of Culture and Tourism

The Dragon Boat Festival, also called Duanwu Festival, is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th Chinese lunar month. During the festival, Chinese people eat zongzi, hang Chinese mugwort, drink realgar wine, and race dragon boats, which is considered to be the most important activity in southern China.


Dragon boat racing is said to originate from the commemoration of Qu Yuan (343 BC–278 BC), a patriotic poet and a loyal official during the Warring States Period (475 BC-221 BC), who drowned himself in a river. People admired the great patriotic poet and decided to commemorate him on the day he died. Dragon boat racing is an indispensable part of the festival, showing people's attempts to rescue and recover Qu Yuan's body.


Xixi National Wetland Park, located at Tianmushan Road, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, is the place where the annual Hangzhou Xixi International Dragon Boat Race is held. A typical dragon boat ranges from 20 to 35 meters in length, is shaped in the form of a Chinese dragon, and can accommodate 30 to 60 participants. Dragon boat racing emphasizes the importance of teamwork and the spirit of competition. When the gun is fired, all the rowers will pull their oars in a coordinated way, speeding towards the finish line, with the beating drums serving as an auditory accompaniment. It is said that the winning team will have good luck and happy life in the following year. The Xixi Wetland Dragon Boat Cultural Festival has become a much-anticipated event for Hangzhou citizens.


Enjoying a history of more than 2,000 years, dragon boat racing is an important sport to pass on our traditional virtues. In 2006, it was officially included on the first batch of National Intangible Cultural Heritage List and in 2009, it was added to the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage List. 

(Executive Editor: Lubin WANG)

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