Article Date: 27-03-2016
Dragon Boat Festival will be on June 9th this year. The date changes every year as it follows the lunar calander, here is a bit of history of why it all started and also my own personal experience of going to watch the races. The best place to watch the races in Taipei are at Dajia Riverside Park.
Races will take place between June 9th and June 12th
The Dragon Boat festival is a national holiday in Taiwan which takes place on the fifth day of the fifth month on the lunar calander and we should all get at least one day off unless your boss is scamming you which is not unheard of. The Dragon boat festival this year will be on June 9th.
The Dragon Boat festival came about because during the warring states period of ancient China (circa. 340 – 277 B.C.) The seven most powerful warloads during this time period called theirselves king. The warlords or kings as they would call their self would annex smaller territories and claim it as theirs. Chu Yuan served the Chu State which was among the seven most powerful.
Chu Yuan was originally favoured by the Chu king, but he later distanced himself from Chu Yuan because of Chu Yuan's political enemies. His political enemies then proceeded to get Chu Yuan exiled from the Chu State when the captial of Chu State was taken by Cins army.
Chu Yuan then decided he would throw himself into the Miluo River to end his life and show solidarity and loyalty to his own political beliefs and the Chu King.
After Chu Yuan's death the common people ordered search parties in an attempt to find him. Rowing up and down the river in search of his body. The women made Zhongzi to throw into the river in an attempt to stop the fish from eating Chu Yuans corpse, and this is also the reason why eating Zhongzhi is popular today.
You will see Zhongzhi being sold all around the streets of Taiwan during this time period, and when you see it everywhere then you know that Dragon Boat Festival is fast approaching.
The Dragon boat races in Taipei City normally take place at Dajia Riverside Park and Xindian. I normally prefer to go to the races at Dajia Riverside Park because they are bigger races, seem to be a lot more popular, and generally have a lot more things going on there than in Xindian.
During the race, the dragon boat team will have rowers, a drummer and a flag catcher. The bloke with the drum has to drum to a beat and the rowers need to follow it. The flag guy/girl at the front does nothing but grab the flag. I did enquire about being a flag catcher but it turns out you need to be small and nimble, which makes sense considering your doing nothing but carrying a flag and everyone else has to row for you. The first team to grab the flag is the winning team. I have occasionally seen people fall into the river which is very amusing!
At the races you can find stands all around the area selling all kinds of food and other various trinkets. It's something different to do, and something different to see that you wouldn't see back in blighty.