The Dragon Boat Festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month (25 June 2020).
It’s hard to imagine that the vibrancy of today’s colourful festivities has its origins in a tragedy that occurred 2,000 years ago. The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Tuen Ng Festival, commemorates the death of Qu Yuan, a Chinese national hero. In a protest against corrupt rulers, Qu drowned himself in the Mi Lo River.
To scare away fish from eating his body, the townspeople beat drums and threw glutinous rice dumplings called zongzi into the water. Today, this event is remembered by Chinese people around the world who eat zongzi and go swimming or at least dip their hands in rivers or lakes.
Dragon Boat Races
The real highlight of the festival is the fierce-looking dragon boats racing in a lively, colourful spectacle. Teams race the elaborately decorated boats to the beat of heavy drums. The special boats, which measure more than 10 metres, have ornately carved and painted 'dragon' heads and tails, and each carries a crew of 20–22 paddlers. Participants train in earnest for the competition. Sitting two abreast, with a steersman at the back and a drummer at the front, the paddlers race to reach the finish line, urged on by the pounding drums and the roar of the crowds.
Communities across Hong Kong will celebrate the festival with locally organised dragon boat races.