The Dragon Boat Festival

Tomorrow is the Dragon Boat Festival, one of China’s traditional festivities that started being an official holiday a few years ago. So tomorrow we don’t work! Yay!

This holiday has several traditions, the less well-known one is that this month is one of bad luck and people need to hang a branch made of several plants and a garlic head at their door. We did it last year, but this year my MIL was searching for the branch in the stores nearby and she couldn’t find any. She says downtown they’re everywhere. People are losing their traditions in this modern district!

The more popular traditions that everybody has heard about are the dragon boat races and the glutinous rice dumplings. I have always been a big fan of the rice dumplings (粽子) because I love sticky rice. There are many different fillings and can be sweet (usually with a red bean paste filling) or savoury (the most common savoury one has a meat filling). Between the rice dumplings that my MIL brought and the ones that C.’s company gifted him, I’m well stocked for a few months!

Ayis making rice dumplings.


In Suzhou, the dragon boat races are held very close to our apartment but I have only been to see them once (and I wrote a post about it here). I would like to go again but let’s be honest here, I don’t think it will happen because: 1) they are too early, 2) it’s usually very hot and 3) there are SO MANY PEOPLE. The time that I went I didn’t really see much of the races at all and I sweated like a pig. I also didn’t manage to take many pictures, so for this post I searched for the official pictures from other years to show you how the dragon boat races look like in Suzhou. All pictures are from the Suzhou Industrial Park government website.

What a polluted day this was… and look at the hordes of people on the right!


The dragon boats in the middle of a race. They row super fast!


Each boat has a drummer that sets the rhythm for the rowers.


The dragon heads from the boats.


This GIF is from


Apart from the races there is also an area with food and drink stalls. Of course! This part I’ve visited several times (because normally every year I say “I want to go see the dragon boat races” but by the time we arrive they’re over… the food stalls stay until the afternoon).


Happy Duanwu/Dragon Boat Festival!