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Dragon Boat Festival: More Fun Stuff to Do in Your Classroom!

May 28, 2014


Festival participants are practicing for a race (photographed in Tainan, Taiwan)


端午節 Duanwu Festival, also known as the Dragon Boat Festival, is a traditional holiday originating in China and associated with a number of East Asian and Southeast Asian cultures. It is also known as the Double Fifth Festival as people celebrate it on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. On this day, racing boats and eating zongzi 粽子  are the most well known activities that are done to celebrate the holiday and to honor the great poet Qu Yuan 屈原*. However, there are many more activities you can do to celebrate!

Here are two of the most popular in China and Taiwan:

a) Balancing an Egg: Besides boat racing, the most fun pastime for this holiday is balancing an egg. People believe that it is possible to make a raw egg stand up on its end on Duanwu because of the unique properties associated with the day. In the Chinese lunar calendar, Duanwu takes place at the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Thus, according to tradition, the strong solar power can make an egg stand on its end on this day, especially at mid-day. If you can manage to balance your egg, you will get good luck for the next year! In fact, it is possible to make an egg stand straight up on its end any day, but traditionally this activity is associated with the Dragon Boat Festival. Even today you can still see people balancing their eggs at noon as a ritual to test if they can have good luck for the rest of the year! As a science project with a cultural blessing, egg-balancing would be a really fun classroom activity to do with your students to enrich their cultural knowledge while creating a fun and memorable learning experience!  

b) Hanging Chinese Herbs: Duanwu is recognized as a day of cleaning in China. Back in ancient times, the fifth month of the lunar calendar was considered the start of summer, and thus also the start of the disease season. Warm weather and humidity causes many foods to spoil, and also brought insects and sickness to many communities. In order to clean their homes and repel disease, people both hung and smoked herbs like mugwort and calamus in their homes, using the smell to prevent poisonous insects from getting into the house. People also believed these herbs would help sterilize the environment. If you cannot race a dragon boat, try cleaning the classroom with your students after hanging a bundle of mugwort and calamus on the front door, or try enjoying a zongzi! There is no better opportunity to teach kids the importance of tidiness and cleanliness than Dragon Boat Festival. It comes with food! For more information about the Dragon Boat Festival, please visit the Cheng & Tsui Youtube Channel.