One of these events, with both cultural and historical roots, is the famous Dragon Boat Races, where eight to twenty paddlers move in unison with one goal in line: to be the first ones to cross the finish line. This year, you have the chance to either participate or be a spectator at two such events!
Dragon Boat Races are said to have started as a competition in the southern part of China sometime during the sixth century. It’s important to note, however, that this competition was not a sports event, but a competition of strength and strategy, and that it was sponsored by the military in an effort to recruit the best candidates for their naval force. Throughout the centuries, the purpose of the races changed course, becoming part of regional celebrations that extended throughout China.
Dragon boat racing became the major attraction for the Duanwu Festival, also known as the Double Fifth Festival, which occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month of the Chinese lunar calendar. In 2014, it will happen on June 2nd. The Chinese also celebrate this holiday by eating rice dumplings known as “zongzi,” and drinking realgar wine known as “xionghuangjiu.” The Duanwu Festival commemorates the life and death of the famous Chinese scholar Qu Yuan 278 BCE.
But why dragons? There are quite a few theories regarding the origins of the dragon head on the bow of the boat and the dragon tail on the aft. The most popular theory is that it represents the power of the dragon, who is one of the animals in the Chinese Zodiac and it is said to have, among its positive qualities, magnitude, stature, vigor, strength, self-assurance, pride, nobility, direction, and passion.
Dragon Boat racing has become an international sport in the last few decades, taking place not only in Asia, but throughout the world. In the Chicago area, there are two upcoming Dragon Boat Races:
- June 28 – The 2014 Dragon Boat Race for Literacy will take place at the Ping Tom Memorial Park, 300 W. 29th Street, Chicago, IL from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Watch a video of last year’s event here.
- July 26 – The Third Annual Walgreens Chicago International Dragon Boat Festival will take place at Lake Arlington in Arlington Heights, IL from 8:45 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
Either as a participant or a spectator, you and your family are bound to have tons of fun!
Yu’s New Beijing is a Glen Ellyn, IL restaurant featuring Chinese and Asian cuisine, made fresh every day. We are located at 610 Roosevelt Road. Our phone number is 630-469-1535. We welcome you to dine in with us in our sit down restaurant, where we have a full bar. In addition, you may pick up your order, or we will be happy to deliver it within a 2-mile radius. Please note that there is a delivery charge.
To order online, please visit: www.yusgarden.com.