Dragon Boat Festival Weekend

Dragon Boat Festival Weekend – Shane Goulding

We all love a three-day weekend and this last weekend, June 7-9 was the Dragon Boat Festival national holiday here in China.

The holiday commemorates famous poet Qu Yuan who lived during the Zhou dynasty. Qu served in high-level positions but was later exiled. Understandably unhappy it is said he committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River. Locals who respected Qu raced to save him in their boats, which is where the tradition of dragon boat racing is said to have begun.

Later, it is believed that packs of rice were thrown into the river to prevent the fish from eating Qu’s body. This is also how the tradition of eating zongzi, a glutinous rice filled bamboo leaf dumpling came from, with different regions preferring different fillings such as egg yolk, meant or beans.

In Shanghai this year, the actual dragon boat races were held the weekend before the holiday on June 1-2. Early that morning, I was woken up by the sound of beating drums and chants not too far away. It took me a few second to realise the noise was from the annual races. This year, 80 different teams from around the world competed. I’m a little spoiled, as I don’t even have to leave my apartment to see the races as I have a nice view of Suzhou creek where they are each year.  This is just one of the many reasons I love living and working in China.