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1st “Dragon Boat Festival & Cultural Fair” Wrap-Up

1st “Dragon Boat Festival & Cultural Fair” Wrap-Up

The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as the Duanyang Festival and “May” Festival, is an important festival in Chinese traditional culture. According to legend, Qu Yuan, a patriotic yet banished poet of the Chu State during the Warring States Period, threw himself into the Miluo river to show his loyalty to his country after hearing that his homeland had been occupied by the Qin state. The local people raced out in their boats in a futile attempt to save him, and later decided to throw “zongzi” in the river to prevent fish from eating his body, hence starting a thousand-year tradition. 

In truth, several other folk customs of the Dragon Boat Festival already existed before Qu Yuan’s period, many of which were meant to purify uncleanliness and prevent disease. This is because the lunar month of May is considered to be an “unlucky” month of the year, symbolizing the start of the blistering heat of summer, which brings with it many poisonous bugs and therefore illness. For that reason the Han people need to hold a big ceremony to prepare and cleanse themselves before the season of summer sickness begins.

Four ladies dressed in Hanfu (traditional Chinese attire) shaping a zhongzi together.

Glow Cultural Center is proud to have presented, along with Hanfu NYC and New York College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, our first-ever Dragon Boat Festival & Cultural Fair on June 18th, Sunday, 2023. Building on our co-hosts’ wealth of knowledge and experience, our first DBF celebration offered an insightful viewing of this traditional Chinese holiday, including many important cultural activities such as making zongzi, embroidering scented sachets to keep away insects, braiding lucky bracelets, “shooting” the five poisons, and even holding a mini dragon boat race in GCC’s lobby area. 

Participants were able to aim for more rewards by using the “Dragon Boat Festival Passport” to collect activity stamps in exchange for our DBF exclusive souvenirs. Sweet zongzi, mugwort cake, lucky bracelets, and cute hand-stitched tiger dolls turned out to be very popular prizes, and though we prepared more than two hundred of them, the baskets were soon emptied and we had to bring out our back-up supplies – Hanfu stickers and hand soap. More than three hundred attendees showed up for the Dragon Boat Festival fair & performances, and we were blessed with great weather and had to crank up the AC system, so festival attendees were able to try on different Han cultural attire (courtesy of HanfuNYC), enjoy our steamy rice-based treats, and get their Chinese medicine diagnostics. With all the cultural activities and aesthetics transforming the place, it at times seemed that an entire royal escort from ancient China had time-traveled to Glow Cultural Center to enjoy a modern twist on their favorite Dragon Boat Festival customs and festivities. 

Adding to the excitement were stage performances brought to us by XH Music & Arts Center, Dance for the People, and our co-hosts’ presentations – we had both Guzheng and Guqin performances, colorful kids’ dances, Chinese yo-yo by Linda Quach, Baduanjin Qigong demonstration by Dr. Baorong Wang, Chinese Archery, and many more brilliant displays of talent and beauty. Glow hopes that everyone has a great summer free of ills and pests – remember to take out your lucky bracelet and sachets if you feel like you need an extra bit of charm – and we would love to see you all at our next big event! Of course, our first Dragon Boat Festival & Cultural Fair would not be possible without our sponsors, supporters, co-hosts, and volunteers, and it is thanks to all the participants, their families, and friends – everyone that came together on this day – that made the celebration so successful. The entire team at Glow Cultural Center is immensely grateful for everyone who showed their support, and wishes to bring more cultural programs to the community in the future –> check our calendar for our latest events!



This event was supported by the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, New York City Councilor Sandra Ung’s Office, Urban Healthcare, and MetroPlus Health