China Celebrates the Dragon Boat Festival
Posted by: Sanny Linawati, Global Director, Destination and Real Estate Services
China, Hong Kong, and many other places around the world will be celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival on Friday June 7. Known as the Duanwu Festival, it commemorates a notable official and poet named Qu Yuan, who died 2,000 years ago. It includes a three-day public holiday in mainland China and, as one of the busiest festivals in the country, the event can have an impact on scheduled international assignments planned during this time.
In the year 278 BC, the capital of Chu State was captured by the Qin Army. Qu Yuan was so grieved by this that he jumped into the Miluo River and died. To honor his life and work, boat races are held on various waterways throughout China to imitate the fishermen who tried to find Qu Yuan. The canoes and long boats used in these races are painted with elaborate dragon designs and colors and traditionally, the winning team earns a year of happiness and good fortune.
Many locals hang fragrant plants like Chinese mugwort and calamus during the celebrations to ward off evil spirits. The hanging of these plants is also intended to bring happiness and good luck for the rest of the year. Zongzi, a sticky rice dumpling filled with rice, beans, and other ingredients is a common treat during the three-day event. The exact recipe for zongzi varies across China, but generally speaking, people in the south prefer salty ones and those in the north opt for sweet. It is also common to drink realgar wine during meals, which is thought to drive away evil spirits and repel disease.
The Dragon Boat Festival can be one of the busiest holidays for travel in China. International assignees in the country during this festival should ensure they leave plenty of time for journeys and be mindful that businesses may be closed or operate limited hours. This is especially so in major cities like Beijing and Guangzhou, where official festivities can attract large crowds. Nevertheless, the Dragon Boat Festival is a truly awesome spectacle that expatriates should enjoy whilst on assignment.
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