Dragon Boat Day is an important cultural celebration in China. This year it falls on the 14th of June. It is a festival filled with traditions, superstitions, dragon boating and more. It originates from dragon worship and has long been a traditional holiday in China for about 2,000 years. It became a public holiday in 2008, subsequently, the festival was added to the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2009.
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Much like the name suggests, dragon boat racing is the most important activity during the festival. This activity originates from the legend of paddlers who scurried the rivers in search of the patriotic poet Qu Yuan’s body after he drowned himself in a river.
The grand wooden boats are decorated like a Chinese dragon and usually require 30-60 people to paddle. During the races, dragon boat teams paddle fast to the beat of drums. The winning team is said to have good luck in the following year.
The festival arrived in London’s waterways about a decade ago and is a large celebration of Chinese culture accompanied by dragon boat races, Chinese street food, live performances and more. However, this year due to the pandemic, largescale celebrations in London have been halted. Those who celebrate can continue to do so by wearing customary perfume pouches, enjoying traditional foods like sticky rice dumpling and drinking realgar wine (yellow wine).
The Chinese population in the UK is close to 700,000 thousand and is due to increase with the new wave of migrants from Hong Kong (based on ONS Census 2021 predictions). They mainly reside in Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and London.