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You are here: Home > Chinese Festivals Calendars & Info > Dragon Boat Festival Event Calendar and Information > Dragon Boat Festival Background, Customs, and History

Dragon Boat Festival Background

The Dragon Boat Festival takes place on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month and was originally associated with the Summer Solstice.  The farmers were welcoming the Monsoon rains that would assure a plentiful harvest.  On that day everyone in China eat rice wrapped in leaves. 

The Festival honors Qu Yuan, China's oldest known poet. Qu Yuan gave advice on how to keep the peace to his king during the warring states period (same period that Sun Tzu wrote the Art of War) over 2000 years ago. Unfortunately, he was ignored by his King and became very sad as other officials slandered him.  He was removed from office and became very sad as he was banished.  He drowned himself on the fifth day of the fifth month on hearing that his country had been conquered after he wrote the famous poem, "Li Sao (On encountering Sorrow)".  People raced their boats to save him and beat their drums.  To stop the fish and river dragon from eating him, they beat the water with their paddles.  But this did not work.  

Traditional Dragon Festival Foods

People gave offering of rice to feed his spirit and make sure that the fish would never feed on his body.  To make sure that other animals don't eat the rice, they wrap it in a reed and to scare the animals, tied it with bright imperial colors (red, blue, white, yellow, and black).  In another story there is a hungry dragon that is eating all the rice, so the bright colors scare the dragon away.  The wrapped stick rice is called joong and you can buy it from Chinese bakeries or order it at a Dim Sum restaurant.


Other Dragon Festival Customs

Children on that day wear bracelets of five different colors to protect against Evil, they are called the Five Poison or Wu Du charms. 

Dragon Boats are painted traditionally green, red, yellow, white, and black.  Dragons are powerful of full of good luck, so the Dragon boat races spread good luck.  Dragon Boat festivals are held from February through October.  There are over forty Dragon Boat Festivals in the US and Canada, with the largest in Vancouver and Toronto.  Each team races on a fifty foot long teak or fiberglass dragon boat that has usually 20 paddlers, a drummer, and a steer person.  The drummer is the heart of the Dragon.  The course is 500 to 1300 Meters long.

Please check out these related Dragon Boat Festival pages:


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Celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival by Sanmu Tang, softcover
Celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival by Sanmu Tang, softcover,
Our Price: $6.99
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The Ultimate Dragon Boat Book!
  • Explore the origins of the Dragon Boat Racing Festival
  • Chinese Customs
  • All about the races
Beautiful illustrations, written by an experienced dragon boat racer

A must-read this season!

The Dragon Dance with Nickelodeon's Ni Hao, Kai-lan,  by Moly Reisner, English,  Hardcover
The Dragon Dance with Nickelodeon's Ni Hao, Kai-lan, by Moly Reisner, English, Hardcover
Our Price: $14.99
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Features a colorful and charming Chinese dragon weaving its way through the fun storybook featuring Nick Jr.ís latest hit character: Ni Hao Kai-Lan.
English, Hardcover
Meet Kai-lan! with Nickelodeon's Ni Hao, Kai-lan, English,  Softcover
Meet Kai-lan! with Nickelodeon's Ni Hao, Kai-lan, English, Softcover
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This is a fun story, Kai-lan and her friends are putting on a hat parade and you're invited!

A Gift by Yong Chen, English, Hardcover
A Gift by Yong Chen, English, Hardcover
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A Gift by Yong Chen, English, Hardcover

Amy received a special gift from her Mom's siblings in China.The story succeeds in evoking the importance of meaningful family relationships, especially over a distance.

What could be so special in Amy's gift? Let's find out!
Get Dressed with Kai-lan! with Nickelodeon's Ni Hao, Kai-lan, English,Hard cover
Get Dressed with Kai-lan! with Nickelodeon's Ni Hao, Kai-lan, English, Hard cover
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It's time for Kai-lan to get dressed! What should she wear? From the Nick Jr. show, Ni Hao Kai-lan.
Listen With Kai-lan with Nickelodeon's Ni Hao, Kai-lan, English, Softcover
Listen With Kai-lan with Nickelodeon's Ni Hao, Kai-lan, English, Softcover
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Listen With Kai-lan!

English, Softcover

Kai-lan's Beach Day, Kai-lan, English, Softcover
Kai-lan's Beach Day, Kai-lan, English, Softcover
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Kai-lan's Beach Day
Kai-lanLoves YeYe!, Kai-lan, English, Softcover
Kai-lanLoves YeYe!, Kai-lan, English, Softcover
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Kai-lanLoves YeYe!
Yum Yum Dim Sum,  English, Board Book
Yum Yum Dim Sum, English, Board Book
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Yum Yum Dim Sum
Kai-lan's Great Trip to China, Kai-lan, English, Hard cover
Kai-lan's Great Trip to China, Kai-lan, English, Hard cover
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Kai-lan's Great Trip to China
   
 
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