The Dragon Boat Festival is an important festival and tradition celebrated by the Chinese. It is a day when colourful boats take to the water and races are held to mark the occasion.
Here are some interesting Dragon Boat Festival facts about its origins and its traditions.
Interesting Dragon Boat Festival Facts
1. The Dragon Boat Festival is said to trace it roots back to the Warring State period, 2,000 years ago, in China. Qu Yuan, a patriot drown himself in the Milou River and the locals took boats out to search for his body, scaring away the fish so that they could recover his body. This eventually evolved into the present day Dragon Boat Festival. However, the practice of the Dragon Boat Festival pre-dates Qu Yuan.
Read more stories on: Kayaking in Singapore, Bird Paradise and Singapore Botanic Gardens
2. The Dragon Boat Festival coincides with the annual flood period in China. In the past, the head of the summer led to insects and bacteria breeding fast. This resulted in the spread of the disease. This led them to look for ways to seek help from heaven. In northern China, people would go up to the mountain while those in the south would pray at the river bank. They would row dragon boats to seek the protection of Chinese dragons.
3. The Dragon Boat Festival is also closely associated with the eating of zongzi or rice dumplings. It is said that the villagers used these rice dumplings to feed the fish when Qu Yuan died, so that they would not eat his body before they could recover it.
4. Dragon Boat racing is now an international sport and celebrated in countries all around the world with competitions held in countries like Australia, United States, United Kingdom, Taiwan and more.
5. The date of the Dragon Boat Festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar each year.
6. The Dragon Boat Festival is listed as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It was added to the list in September 2009.
7. There was a controversy surrounding the UNESCO recognition of the Dragon Boat Festival because South Korea tried to get recognition for their Dano celebrations in 2005 and the Chinese thought that the Dano was actually an appropriate of the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival.
8. The Dragon Boat Festival is also known as the Duanwu Festival.
9. While eating zongzi or rice dumplings is closely associated with the Dragon Boat Festival, in China, the type of rice dumplings that they eat defers. In northern China, the dumplings are usually sweet and filled with red beans and dried jujube past. In southern China, the rice dumplings are savoury and they are filled with fatty pork.
10. The Boston Dragon Boat Festival was the first dragon boat festival to be held in the United States of America. it was first held in 1979. Today, it attracts competitors from all around the world.
More Interesting Dragon Boat Festival Facts for Kids
11. Another custom that is practised during the Dragon Boat Festival is the wearing of perfumed pouches. These are filled with herbs and can be beautifully decorated. It is said that wearing these sachets with five-coloured silks will help to ward off evil.
12. At the front of each dragon boat, there is a Chinese drum. A drummer would beat the drum to rally the rowers to row in sync with each other.
13. An hour of dragon boating can burn off between 500 to 800 calories. It is a good way to get a full body work out since it makes use of the upper body muscles and also engages leg, as well as core, muscles.
14. Competitive dragon boats come in two different sizes. There is a 10-paddler dragon boat and a 20-paddler dragon boat.
15. The 10-paddler dragon boat is 9 metres in length and can weigh up to 170 kg.
16. The 20-paddler dragon boat can weigh up to 250 kg and is just 3 metres longer than the 10-paddler dragon boat at 12 metres long.
17. Modern day dragon boats are made from fibreglass with foam within the hull for extra buoyancy.
18. A fully loaded 20-paddler dragon boat can weigh up to 2 tonnes, or the weight of a car.
19. Dragon boats can go as fast as 20 km/h with a full crew in tip top shape.
20. According to the Guinness World Records, the longest dragon boat in the world recorded was in Cambodia, and it measured 87.3 m (or 286 ft 5 in) – about the same length as the height of the Statue of Liberty. It was created for the Cambodian Water Festival.
21. Dragon boating is now often used as team building activities because of the coordination and collaboration required to paddle the huge boats.
You may also be interested in these Dragon Boat Festival activities for kids.