About Duan Wu Jie (Double Fifth Festival)

By Hannah, who lives in China and is a Chinese citizen kind enough to explain more about this national May/June holiday.


“Duan Wu Jie” is a Chinese traditional festival. It happens on May 5 according to Chinese lunar calendar. In English, it translates into Dragon Boat Festival or Double Fifth Festival. Actually, it has around 20 different names and meanings in Chinese and is celebrated differently according to region.

Photo by Hanna

Racing the dragon boat is one well-known way of celebrating “Duan Wu Jie” day, but most common way of the celebration is to eat the rice cake, which is called Zongzi (boiled reed leaves wrapped into pyramid shape over sticky rice that has been mixed with beans or dates, but these modern days even pork and eggs in it).

The most popular saying of “Duan Wu Jie” day is to memorize the great poet and patriot Quyuan, he suicide himself by jumping into the river. The locals heard of it so all coming out by the boats tried to save him. Also, the locals were afraid that the river fish might ate his body because of hungry, so people throw the rice into the river to avoid that. That’s how it comes the dragon boat and the rice cake.

Photo by Hanna

In my hometown, when “Duan Wu Jie” festival is closing, the married daughters of each family have to buy a lot of the Zongzi and Xianyadan (salted duck egg) to bring to their parents home to honor them.

In September 30, 2009, the “Duan Wu Jie” festival was listed on the Human Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Now it’s a legal national holiday. We don’t have to work on this day anymore!

More about the Dragon Boat Festival


Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning My Splendid Concubine and writes The Soulful Veteran and Crazy Normal.

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