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2024 Dragon Boat Festival “Duanwu Jie” Cultural Fair Wrap-Up

2024 Dragon Boat Festival “Duanwu Jie” Cultural Fair Wrap-Up


Jun 11, 2024| Brooke Yeh

12 ladies dressed in Hanfu in front of Glow Cultural Center's 2024 Dragon Year Backdrop

The Dragon Boat Festival is the first unique Chinese holiday to be selected into UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list, and celebrates traditions dating back thousands of years old. This time around, Glow selected the closest Saturday to the official date (which falls on June 10th this year) to present, along with Hanfu NYC and New York College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, our 2nd Dragon Boat Festival “Duanwu Jie” Cultural Fair! 

Also known as “Duanwu Jie” (端午節), the Dragon Boat Festival featured two educational programs that explored the origins of this important Chinese holiday. One was the premiere of an original minidrama “Story of Qu Yuan” from Zao Learning Education, which had seven kid performers re-enacting the tale of the most widely commemorated figure of the Dragon Boat Festival – the first “Great Poet” and prime minister of the State of Chu, Qu Yuan. The second program was a Chinese storytelling workshop from LingoAce that introduced iconic “Duanwu Jie” festivities including dragon boat racing, eating zongzi, braiding 5-colored bracelets, drinking realgar wine, hanging mugwort & calamus, wearing scented medicinal sachets, and much more.  The program concluded with a kids’ zongzi making session – using of play-doh to the children’s delight.

The highlight of the day was most definitely the “JiLi” – Chinese Traditional Adulthood Ceremony for girls (photo below). It’s not every day that a girl comes of age, and I was very honored to be part of this celebration for Brenda, an exemplary volunteer leader who has contributed immensely to the community through multiple events & programs since the pandemic and inspired many youth to follow in her footsteps. Carefully organized and presided over by Hanfu NYC, we believe this was the first public traditional Chinese adulthood ceremony to be held in Flushing, and hope with the right support we can expand the ceremony in the future for both boys and girls. 

Brenda, Brenda's Mom, Audrey (the host), and a assistant all dressed in Hanfu on GCC's stage for the "Jili" Traditional Chinese Girls' Adulthood ceremony

Audrey adjusting the pin and accessories in Brenda's hair for the "Jili" Chinese Traditional Girls' Adulthood ceremony

For the cultural fair, we had more than one hundred families from all across NYC sign-up on the day  – mostly from Queens (85%) and Manhattan (8%), but some coming from as far as Binghamton, NY – to participate in our Dragon Boat passport stamp collecting activity. The event attracted 5% non Asians.   Eventbrite pre-registrants (94) got a free mini zongzi on their way in, but walk-ins also had a chance to win a zongzi in addition to the many prizes we prepared, ranging from cute dragon plushies to slices of mugwort cake, kids t-shirts and calligraphy scrolls. Quite a few people were surprisingly skilled at the games & activities, managing to shoot down all 5 of the 5 poisons, landing three arrows in the pitch pot (which was actually incredibly hard this year due to the tiny vase we used, shipped all the way from China for this particular festival), and racing the paper dragon boats down a twelve-feet-long track with surprising speed. The addition of the egg balancing activity proved to be popular, with many adults and even kids succeeding – sometimes with a little sugary help. The zongzi making workshop saw 63 families learning how to make their first authentic dragon boat festival zongzi together, and the doctors from the New York College of Traditional Chinese Medicine saw over a hundred participants. 

Mother and daughter trying to race two purple paper dragon boats down the table with balloon pumps (the daughter is winning)

A rolled-up calligraphy scroll (red paper) on a wooden tray

*Congratulations to everyone who won prizes!! I wanted the dragon too!

 

All in all, the 2nd Dragon Boat Festival “Duanwu Jie” Cultural Fair was wildly popular, with over three hundred participants and people of all ages and sizes coming to Glow Cultural Center in Flushing to partake in the many fun cultural activities & traditions of this special Chinese holiday. A big shout-out to New York College of Traditional Chinese Medicine for bringing professional, licensed doctors to provide free diagnosis for the community, Hanfu NYC for meticulously preparing the first-ever public JiLi Chinese Adulthood Ceremony in Flushing, and thank you everyone who participated, supported, and volunteered for this event! We dearly hope to see you again next year!

DBF volunteer group photo on stageThe event was sponsored and supported by grants from the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, and the NYS DOS AAPI Equity Allocation.

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TL;DR:  

  • “JiLi” first-ever traditional Chinese girl’s adulthood ceremony in Flushing
  • “Story of Qu Yuan” by Zao Education Center
  • “Story of Duanwu” by LingoAce
  • Licensed TCM doctors FREE diagnosis & body constitution quizzes
  • Zongzi Wrapping workshop
  • Fun games & hands-on activities
  • Stamp collecting! 
  • Lots of prizes!!

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