June 9, 2016
As Dragon Boat Festival 2016 Is Celebrated Worldwide, Facts About History Form The Traditions Of Today

The Dragon Boat Festival 2016 is celebrated today, and all across the world the festival is becoming more and more popular. Special kinds of dumplings will be eaten, and a bunch of cities around the world will feature boat races of long slender boats with dragon heads and drums. Racers have prepared all year just for this day, so the competition is always fierce. As Chinese people have spread across the world, so has the Dragon Boat Festival tradition.

In Chinese, the festival is called the Duanwu Festival, which refers to the date of the festival in accordance with the traditional Chinese lunar calendar. The date of the festival falls on a different date every year in the normal Gregorian calendar. That's why last year the festival fell on Saturday, June 20, and in 2014 it was on June 2. The date the holiday falls on can range from the end of May to the middle of June from year to year.

In many places in East Asia, like China, Taiwan, Macau, and Hong Kong, it's a national holiday. People will have all day to enjoy tasty leaf-wrapped sticky rice dumplings along with realgar wine as they head to the river and watch hefty dragon boat paddlers in competitive boat races. The rituals associated with the festival are related to a famous poet. His story gave birth to Dragon Boat Festival traditions.

UNESCO talks about how traditional folk activities meant to ward of disease were combined with celebration for Qu Yuan in ancient times to form the Dragon Boat Festival as it appears today.

"The colorful and diversified folk customs involved in the Dragon Boat Festival have developed from older customs around this season aimed at driving away evil. Chief amongst these were the elimination of diseases, the chasing away of evil spirits, and the warding off of natural disasters."
The festival started over 2,000 years ago, near the time of China's Warring States period. Qu Yuan was a poet and a public official during an era when ancient China was split into various competing governments. He tried to warn the king of his state that they should form an alliance with other states to ward of any potential invasions. He was ultimately betrayed by other officials and exiled. In the end, his government, known as Chu, was invaded. He threw himself into a nearby lake in grief.

The Dragon Boat represents the ancient people's wish to race out and find the body of their favorite loyal poet-statesman after finding out that he drowned himself. As Vision Times shows, the traditional dumplings, called zongzi in Chinese, are used to represent what people threw in the water as a way to keep fish from eating Qu Yuan's body.

More Dragon Boat Festival facts tell how realgar wine was poured into the river to poison fish and evil spirits who might also wish to tamper with the body. People drink realgar wine today in celebration and as a way to ward off illnesses. The wine is traditionally believed to have many curative properties, though others say it can be a bit too toxic to the body.

All over the world people will celebrate the festival, for instance the NYC Dragon Boat Festival 2016, officially known as the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in New York, features an entire weekend in a park near one of the United States' largest Chinese populations. It's a huge event with city-wide, and even some worldwide participants. Even the mayor and other local politicians get involved. It's a cultural celebration that just continues to grow year after year.

There are even more customs associated with the holiday, but these are some of the most popular. The Dragon Boat Festival 2016 should bring joy and full stomachs to people in communities across the world.

[Photo by Phil Mislinski/Getty Images]