When is it?
The Dragon Boat Festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month of the year. That means that the calendar date changes each year.
In 2019, the date falls on June 7, so the festival is celebrated from Friday, June 7 through Sunday, June 9.
What is it?
The Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional Chinese holiday that has been celebrated for over 2,000 years in China. There are different stories about the history of this holiday. Today, many people in modern China say that the festival commemorates the death of Qu Yuan, a poet and minister during the Zhou Dynasty. He was a member of the royal house, but when the king made an alliance he disapproved of, he was banished for opposing the alliance. During his exile, he wrote poetry, and after 28 years he was captured and committed suicide by drowning himself in the river. Legend says that local people who admired him raced out in their boats to save him, and thus originated the dragon boat races.
Aside from the legend of Qu Yuan, the fifth lunar month is surrounded by superstition, with some people believing that it’s an unlucky month. Some believe that natural disasters or illness are common this month, so during the festival people may do ceremonies to try to avoid bad luck.
As you might expect with a holiday this old, there are many other theories about the origin of the holiday, and how people celebrate will vary based on region and personal preference!
Will I get bookings or cancellations?
While this day is celebrated as a public holiday, some families celebrate and others do not. Some students will book extra classes, and others may cancel if they actively participate in festival events. Often, families who live near rivers have a greater opportunity to celebrate, so if you’re not sure, ask your student if they will be celebrating! As with most holidays, it’s best if you can open up short notice bookings and be as flexible as possible!
What can I do in class to celebrate?
Any time you can bring elements of a festival into your classroom, children and their families will appreciate your efforts! There are a few traditions that are easy to incorporate:
- Dragon Boats (obviously.) This is a fun and easy thing to incorporate in your reward systems because they are so easily recognized. You could make rewards like:
- Dragon Boat teacher vs. student race
- Decorate a dragon boat
- Zongzi. Zongzi is a rice dumpling. People traditionally wrap these in leaves of reed, lotus or banana in a pyramid shape. They might be filled with any number of sweet or savory fillings. You can incorporate this yummy tradition in your classroom with:
- Free talk: Ask your student if they made or ate Zongzi.
- Play Find A Star and they get different fillings or a star when they “bite” into their Zongzi.
- Superstition. Especially if you teach older, higher-level children, this could be a good opportunity to compare traditions. Ask them to tell you about the special 5-chorded braids that are made to ward off bad luck. Share with them our superstitions about bad luck (black cats and walking under ladders.) Holidays are always a good opportunity to share culture!
What should I do to prepare?
There’s really not too much you need to do to prepare, unless you want to incorporate decorations or rewards into your classroom. Be flexible, and be open to hearing if your students want to tell you about their own celebrations on this day. Most importantly, have fun!
If you are a current VIPKid teacher, check out this link for the 2019 Dragon Boat Festival workshop schedule and a free printable download from VIPKid!
If you have suggestions of your own, please let me know in the comments, or let me know how this festival has been for you in the past!
If you are just getting started and would like help through the hiring process, please feel free to reach out. I’d love to help you through the application process with VIPKid!