Celebrate Dragon Boat Festival, and Learn More about its Origins!

Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Dumpling Festival or Duan Wu Jie (端午节) in Chinese is one of the oldest cultural festivals in the world and is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month every year with families and friends coming together to enjoy sticky rice dumplings or zongzi (粽子).

This traditional Chinese festival traces its ancient origins all the way back to more than 2,000 years ago with various interesting stories.

Sticky rice dumplings, or zongzi (粽子), is made of glutinouse rice and packed with an assortment of different ingredients. Not to be confused with ketupat, a Javanese rice cake commonly found in Malay and Indonesian cuisines. (Photo by Jenny Ueberberg on Unsplash )

Loved by locals, news of his demise devastated many, and they rowed out onto the river in search of his missing body but came up short.

In an attempt to preserve his body, locals paddled their boats around the river while beating drums to scare evil spirits away.

They also threw rice into the river to feed the fish, believing that this would distract the fish from eating Qu Yuan’s body.

A statue of Qu Yuan in a dragon boat on one of Singapore’s central streets. A display for the Dragon Boat Festival.

Since then, people in the Miluo River area have carried on this tradition to commemorate the patriotic Qu Yuan on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.

The boat rides gradually developed into dragon boat racing, and the rice became sticky rice dumplings, a traditional food eaten during the festival.

Fun Fact! In 2009, the Dragon Boat Festival was added to the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

(Photo by Samuel Wong on Unsplash)

Other notable legends of how this festival came to be include the tragic story of Wu Zixu, who was forced to commit suicide after his failed attempts to avenge his father and brother, as well as the filial piety of Cao E, who threw herself into the river to retrieve her father’s drowned body, only to resurface five days later with him in her arms.

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