Chinese Dragon Boat Festival 2011
Chinese Dragon Boat Festival
On the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, or around June in our Calendar, the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival takes place. The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival is a significant holiday celebrated in China, and the one with the longest history. This year the festival falls on June 6th.
The Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated by boat races in the shape of dragons. Competing teams row their boats forward to a drumbeat racing to reach the finish first.
There are many legends as to the origin of this festival. One states that it probably got started as a celebration for the planting of the rice crop and to pray for a good rainfall since it was believed that dragons controlled the rain and rivers. People would put offerings in the river so that the dragons would bring rain for their crops.
Another legend tells the story of Qu Yuan, a poet that drowned himself by jumping from a boat, because he couldn’t stand to see his country being destroyed by the poor leaders. When the village people went to look for him, it was too late.
They threw offerings of rice into the water to calm the man’s spirit. One day, Qu Yuan’s spirit returned and told them the rice meant for him, was being devoured by the river dragon. He asked that they wrap the rice in leaves, in shapes like small pyramids. Today, people eat these rice dumplings, known as zongzi in memory of the old man.
Chinese Dragon Boat Racing
Nowadays, what characterises the festivities is the Dragon Boat Races. These are very noisy and exciting events with hundreds of teams competing against each other in this great tradition.
Chinese Dragon Boats are long, narrow boats with a dragon's head at one end and a tail at the rear. Teams of rowers paddle together in unison as they race to the finish line. A leader sits in the front by the head, facing the paddlers, and sets the pace by pounding a large drum.
Raise funds for your school
Get parents, teachers and pupils involved in their very own Dragon boat race this September and raise funds for your school at the same time! Visit: www.funraisers.org.uk for more information.
Getting your pupils involved
The Chinese Dragon Boat Race festival lends itself to so many interesting cross curricular lessons including geography, music, history and literacy.
Some quick ideas to introduce the topic include:
- improvise the legend story or the modern boat race in drama
- explore pace and volume of drums and other instruments in music
- pretend to be journalists reporting on the event via newspapers, radio and documentaries
- enjoy and share books such as 'Awakening the Dragon: the Dragon Boat Race' by Arlene Chan