The Dragon Boat Festival, also called Duanwu Festival (端午節), occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month of the traditional Chinese calendar. An important traditional annual event, originating in China and celebrated throughout East Asia, from Mongolia to Singapore. This year the festival will fall on Monday, 14th June 2021.
Observed for over 2,000 years in China, it is to commemorate Qu Yuan (340-278 BC), an ancient prominent Chinese poet and minister, who drowned himself in the Mi Lo River to protest against corrupt rulers. Legend has it that upon hearing the news, local people raced out in boats to save him, throwing rice into the river and pounded drums to scare away any fish who might want to eat him. Dragon boat competitions with furious drumbeats, and feasting on rice dumplings (粽子 – Zòngzi), is the re-enactment of the rescue operation in a symbolic search for an honest man.
The Dragon Boat Festival, known as Dano festival in Korea, is also celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The Gangneung Danoje, which lasts for more than 20 days, is to pray for good harvest and well-being.
The Japanese Dragon Boat Festival is called Tango no Sekku (端午の節句), also known as Ayame no hi (Iris festival). Originally celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th moon in the lunar calendar, was moved to May 5 after Japan switched to the Gregorian calendar. Until recently, it was known as Boys’ Festival but was since renamed Children’s Day (こどもの日 Kodomo no Hi), a day set aside to respect children’s personalities and to celebrate their happiness.
The Vietnamese also celebrates the Dragon Boat Festival on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month by eating Zòngzi, believing that that helps to obtain good weather and a good harvest. The festival is also celebrated in Singapore and Malaysia by eating Zòngzi and holding dragon boat races.