Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dragon Boat Festival

This past weekend, our city had its own Dragon Boat festival. The sponsored races are held to raise money for a Amateur sport fund which helps community programs and amateur athletes.

You can learn more about the history and traditions of the Dragon Boat festival, Duanwu, which was celebrated in China on June 12th, in our earlier post here.
Can you read the Chinese characters? We recognized the top one for "water" (though it looks very much like "eternity"), and the bottom one for "mountain"
Before the races began, which would be ongoing throughout the day, the dragon needs to be awakened. The dragon heads and tails are stored over the year, and brought out to be attached to the boats for the races. The dragon spirit needs to be awakened to imbue the boats, and the participants, with energy and fervor. This is done with incense, and by painting the dragon's eyes. You can see in the picture above that a ceremonial dragon head had new red dots painted into the eyes. And from there the races began. 

Along with the paddlers, a standard crew includes a drummer at the bow facing the paddlers, and a steerer at the rear. 

The drummer uses a rhythmic drum beat in order to synchronize the paddlers and increase their speed. They often call out encouragements. 

I made a beeline to the Confucius Institute booth :) They offered to write each of the girls names in Chinese calligraphy, which turned out so nice. They also prepared oolong tea for tastings, and treated us to beautiful music played on a Gu Zheng (above, right). Pea found the music hypnotizing! 

You can find all our posts about the Dragon Boat festival, including a recipe and some crafts, here:


  1. How great is it that you were able to experience this festival in your own city?
    I'd like to come and live with you please and you can educate me!!
    As always a fantastic post and so much fun!

    1. Thanks Claire! It is always so nice when we can see/experience something first hand that we've been learning about - I was so happy we had the chance to see the dragon boats. Wish we had a Chinatown - my friends have been using that as bait to lure us into visiting them in Toronto :)

    2. We live close to London, which has a THRIVING Chinatown!

    3. I'm envious :) Have you taken the kids? And if so, did they enjoy it?

  2. No. You know if something is on your doorstep you rather take it for granted. Also travelling with my youngest requires a constitution I am sorely deficient in! Maybe when she's older?

    1. That's funny - I was just thinking about that yesterday - we live less than 10 minutes from a beautiful coastal beach, yet we seem to mostly go when we have company, despite loving it. It had me pondering what else we take for granted around here.
      And indeed, I would be deficient in the required constitution of taking a toddler, with four other children, to a crowded busy place!


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