The Dragon Boat Festival is one of the most important traditional festivals in Taiwan. It is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar.
Please watch a video of the Dragon Boat Festival in Taiwan:
This year’s Dragon Boat Festival falls on May 30, and a variety of traditional activities are held across Taiwan. Among them is the Taipei Dragon Boat Festival hosted by the Taipei City Government at Taipei’s Dajia Riverside Park between May 28 and 30.
The program this year includes the dragon boat competition, the zongzi (sticky rice dumpling)-wrapping competition, the City University Dragon Boat Invitation competition, and traditional activities, such as balancing eggs at noon, joyful outdoor games for kids, DIY sessions, as well as an array of other performances.
Attracting 5,700 contestants from 227 teams from Taiwan and abroad, the dragon boat competition is the largest of its kind in Asia. Total prizes and subsidies amount to about US$200,000 (NT$6 million), and the highest prize for a winning team amounts to about US$13,300 (NT$400,000).
In addition to those organized by civic groups, schools, and enterprises, there are two teams organized by Taiwan’s political parties, the Democratic Progressive Party (DDP) and the New Power Party, as well as 29 teams composed of senior citizens.
The foreign teams are from Israel, Singapore, Ukraine, Russia, the Philippines, China, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), and one organized by foreign students studying in Taiwan.
An interesting activity at the Taipei Dragon Boat Festival is the zongzi-wrapping competition, which is an annual contest allowing visitors to demonstrate their sticky rice dumpling making skills. The process seems to be simple, but it takes a lot patience. The competition was full of fun and challenges as contestants had to wrap the bamboo leaves with thread, both tidily and beautifully.
According to legend, the fifth month on the lunar calendar is the month of poison, and the fifth day of the month marks the emergence of many poisonous insects. Consequently, people used to hang wormwood (艾草), drink realgar (雄黃) wine, and wear a sachet (香包) to ward off poisonous insects in the old days.
Another highlight of the Dragon Boat Festival is the wearing of a fragrance sachet (香包). Nowadays, fragrance sachets are small cloth bags filled with fragrant dried herbs or potpourri. In the run-up to the Festival, vendors sell sachets everywhere in Taiwan, as people buy them for their children in hopes of peace and happiness. Since 2017 is the Year of the Rooster according to the Chinese zodiac, many fragrance sachets are made in the shape of a rooster.