Lesson 4 from Online BLCU Teacher: Dragon Boat Festival

Tomorrow is a holiday in China. If you live in China you probably already know what holiday it is, but for those who are not yet familiar with Chinese holidays: it’s Dragon Boat Festival.

The name is indeed interesting and intriguing, and I bet many people would like to know the story of the holiday’s name and the reason why people eat rice dumpling and watch dragon boats races.

angelaFortunately, Angela, a teacher of Online BLCU Chinese language courses, decided to share it. So read and learn:

Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Festival of 2016 falls on June 9. The holiday in China starts from June 9 to 11, 2016. I want to talk about the customs and some Chinese expressions of Dragon Boat Festival.

The Dragon Boat Festival, also called the Duanwu Festival or 端午节(duānwǔjié), is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month according to the Chinese calendar.

The Dragon Boat Festival has been held annually for more than 2,000. The festival commemorates the death of the poet and minister Qu Yuan (c. 340–278 BC) of the ancient state of Chu, which is in Hunan and Hubei provinces. Qu Yuan was disgraced, dismissed from office, and eventually exiled, when a dishonest and corrupt prince vilified him. And when he heard that the Chu State was defeated by the strong Qin State, he was so despaired that he ended his life by flinging himself into the Miluo River.

Miluo River

It is said that the local people, who admired him, raced out in their boats to save him or at least retrieve his body. When his body could not be found, they dropped rice dumplings into the river so that the fish would eat them instead of Qu Yuan’s body. That’s the origin of doing dragon boats races,赛龙舟(sàilóngzhōu), and eating rice dumplings, 吃粽子(chīzòngzi).


Have you watched dragon boats races before?

dragon boats races


Have you tried rice dumplings before?

It is said that in southern China, people would like to eat salty rice dumplings with pork or salted egg yolks inside, but northern Chinese people would like to eat sweet rice dumplings with red bean paste or red jujube inside. Which would you like to try?

rice dumplings 2rice dumplings 1


Do you like sweet rice dumplings or salty ones?

On Dragon Boat Festival, parents also dress their children up with perfume pouches,香包(xiāngbāo), with colorful silk cloth and Chinese herbs inside.

perfume pouches

People would also hang cattail 菖蒲(chāngpú) and mugwort leaves 艾叶(àiyè) on their house door. In some places of southern China, people would like to drink realgar wine 雄黄酒(xiónghuángjiǔ) on that day. All of these customs are used to prevent disease or evil, because after Dragon Boat Festival, the hottest time of a year is coming.

realgar wine

端午节(duānwǔjié) 快乐(kuàile)!

Happy Dragon Boat Festival!

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Shynar from Kazakhstan, studied at Beijing Language and Culture University.
Shynar Shinibekova

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