Dragon Boat Festival – Explore and Celebrate ‘Double Fifth’
Dragon Boat Festival is a Chinese festival that is celebrated on the 5th day or the 5th lunar month every year. Because of this the date changes year to year in the Western Calendar. This year it is celebrated on June 3rd.
The festival is also called Duanwu Festival, Duanwu Jie or Double Fifth. In China it is a public holiday with schools and most businesses closed. It is an important cultural festival in China and also celebrated by Chinese diaspora and communities around the world.
Dragon Boat Festival’s Origins
The origins of the festival are believed to hark back to the life and death of the famous Chinese poet and statesman Qu Yuan (Chu Yuan) who is believed to have died in 278 BCE. As he was a committed poet, this festival is also referred to as the ‘Poets Festival’. The story of his life and death is a dramatic story of loyalty and betrayal, culminating with him dying by suicide and the local villagers looking for the body in the river he supposedly drowned in, throwing rice to stop the fish eating his body.
**As Qu Yuan apparently died by suicide, previewing materials and videos for references to this is important. Some materials do omit the aspect of suicide and simply refer to his death as a drowning.
While it is traditional to take part or watch Dragon Boat races for this festival, there are many other activities to participate in. Some activities link back to traditional folk beliefs of avoiding disease and evil and promoting good health.
These include hanging mugwort and calamus, wearing perfumed medicine bags and making egg stands at noon. And, as with most Chinese festivals, food plays a big part! Rice dumplings, or Zongzi, is the traditional food eaten and comes in a wide range of sweet and salty flavours. Exploring the unique ingredients used and how they are wrapped (bamboo leaves) is always an interesting insight into Chinese culture for students. Locals may also drink Realgar wine at the festival, as this has links to the original folk story.
Of course Dragon Boat Festivals are a big part of the festival. Teams practise for months before hand and whole communities will turnout to watch the races and cheer for their favourite teams. Decorating the boats with flags and the ‘dragon’ masthead is important too.
Activities to do in class
We’ve compiled below some fun activities for Dragon Boat Festival for different age groups for you to choose from and adapt for your students. Please enjoy exploring, learning more about and celebrating this global festival!
We hope you enjoy learning about Dragon Boat Festival with your students and building their global awareness with these fun activities. We love seeing you and your students engage with global learning, so share some photos on social media and tag us for us to share! @MegGlobalEd