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Dragon Boat Festival and Cultural Fair

This year’s event will be on June 8th, Saturday, from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM 
Save the date and join us for an afternoon of fun, food, and culture!

What is “Duanwu Jie” 端午节 ?

Duanwu Jie, also known as the Dragon Boat Festival, or the Double Fifth Festival, occurs on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar. Finding roots in the philosophy and ancient wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine, venomous animals such as snakes, centipedes, and scorpions were said to proliferate starting from this day; therefore, people try to deter these creatures by pasting images of the five (snake, centipede, scorpion, lizard, toad) on the wall and sticking needles in them. People would also put calamus, artemisia, and garlic (“菖蒲作剑,艾叶作鞭,大蒜头作锤”,俗称端午三友) above the doors to ward off evil and bad luck.
One of the most famous stories revolving around the Dragon Boat Festival is the story about Qu Yuan, a poet and minister of the ancient Chu state in the Warring States period of the Zhou Dynasty, 300 BC. As a high-ranking minister and loyal member of one of Chu’s royal families, Qu Yuan was outspoken against Chu’s alliance with Qin, and proposed allying with Qi instead. The king, however, did not listen and banished Qu Yuan from court, who then turned to poetry for comfort in his 18 years of exile, creating famous works such as “Lament for Ying” and “Li Sao.” In the year 278 BC, the State of Qin conquered Chu’s capital – as Qu Yuan feared. With a final act of patriotism, and as a testament to his ideals and life principles, Qu Yuan jumped into the Miluo River holding a boulder. The local people rushed out in boats to rescue him, but were unsuccessful. As it was around the time where sticky rice cakes – zongzi – were made as an offering to the Dragon king of the river, the local people threw the rice cakes (Zongzi) into the river to prevent the fish from eating Qu Yuan’s body instead.
From then on, the tradition of dragon boat racing and making zongzi in honor of Qu Yuan was passed down from generation to generation, fusing with pre-existing ceremonies that warded off evil and bad luck, creating the multi-layered traditions of Duanwu Jie observed today.

Glow’s Dragon Boat Festival & Cultural Fair

Launched in 2023, Glow’s Dragon Boat Festival & Cultural Fair is a family-friendly and immersive cultural experience that welcomes everyone who wants to know more about this unique Chinese holiday. We bring together a wide array of food, traditions, and activities that celebrate the life of the great poet Qu Yuan, and pay homage to the many Duanwu customs originating from different regions of ancient China.

Learn how to wrap your own sticky rice balls in our zongzi making workshop, weave colorful good luck bracelets to keep the bad spirits away, and seek medical advice from licensed Chinese medicine professionals! In addition, try on beautiful Hanfu clothing and practice writing calligraphy, all for free at our Dragon Boat Festival & Cultural Fair. 

What We Did in 2023:

Glow Cultural Center worked with Hanfu NYC and New York College of Traditional Chinese Medicine to present our first-ever Dragon Boat Festival & Cultural Fair on June 18th, Sunday, 2023!

Activities included:
✔ Zongzi (Sticky Rice Dumplings) workshop & mugwort rice cake tasting
✔ Embroidered scented sachets, braiding 5-color lucky bracelets
✔ Paper dragon boat racing, pitch-pot, pinning the five poisons
✔ Chinese medicine forum with body constitution quiz, tongue & ear diagnosis, Baduanjin Qigoing demonstration
✔ Chinese Han Cultural performances
More than three hundred participants came to the fair & performances, making our first Dragon Boat Festival a great success! Check out this post to see what actually happened on the day.