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5 facts you probably didn’t know about the dragon boat races

of June this year, or on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. While there is a legend behind the dragon boat celebration, not many westerners know that the fifth lunar month is considered an unlucky month in Chinese culture. Therefore, even before the dragon boat festival, there were certain rituals that took place to keep the good luck. In today’s article by Pacific Prime Hong Kong, we present you with 5 facts you might not know about the dragon boat races. Let’s begin! 

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The legend behind the dragon boat festival

Believed to originate as a tribute to an ancient poet and minister Qu Yuan (c. 340–278 BC), the dragon boat festival commemorates his suicide death. But let’s start at the beginning of the story. Qu Yuan was an advisor and of the top officials in an ancient state of Chu. At some point, the ruler of Chu decided to become allies with another state, called Qin, and Qu Yuan was advising against the move and even accused him of treason. For this, he was banished, and during 28-year long banishment, Qu Yuan wrote many beautiful poems, many of which are still read in China. 

When Qin betrayed the Chu and captured Ying – Chu’s capital, Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo river – some say he did so to avoid punishment from the Qin soldiers, and some say he did it because of despair.

The dragon boat racing ritual is said to originate because the local people who admired and loved Qu Yuan, went on their boats and raced on the river trying to save him, or at least to retrieve his body. And when they couldn’t find his body, the local people started beating drums to scare the fish away and drop balls of sticky rice into the river, so the fish would eat it instead of Qu Yuan’s body. That’s why people also eat the traditional zongzi sticky rice dumplings on this day. 

Dragon boat race in Hong Kong
Dragon boat race in Hong Kong

5 things you probably didn’t know about dragon boat races

Now that you know the story behind the dragon boat festival, below we present five interesting facts about the festival. 

1. Dragon boat races are widely used as a team-building activity

Many multinational companies and associations sign up their teams for the dragon boat races. Such activity can build a strong and committed team focused on collaboration and trust. Part wellness program, part team-building, the practice sessions can take up to 16 weeks, and they are also great for training physical agility! Win-win! 

2. Dragon boat races are now a thing around the world 

While the dragon boat festival was traditionally practiced in Asian countries, the activity has been picked up all around the world as a means for companies to build team spirit. Due to the influence of Chinese culture, the festival is also observed in Japan and South Korea, but we’ve seen races in countries like Poland, Germany, and the USA, too. 

3. Benefits of dragon boat racing

Many expats in Hong Kong treat dragon boating as a great way to make new friends, with the crew size of 22 and few weeks of regular workout and practice, dragon boat is a great activity to do just that. Besides, dragon boating is a whole-body workout; during each practice session, you train your legs, arms, shoulders, and your core. It’s also a cardiovascular training, meaning you can burn up to 350 kcal per hour. Keeping fit is good for your health and your waistline

4. The most common dragon boat injuries

As with all activities, there are also certain common injuries people practicing for the race can experience. Cuts and scrapes, as well as sunburn, are the most common issues rowers encounter. However, many dragon boat participants also suffer from more serious injuries and pain to the lower back, shoulders, and wrists. This is usually caused because of poor technique or hunching. Such injuries might take months if not years to recover, so it’s important to learn the right rowing technique. 

5. This year’s dragon boat festival is canceled

Sadly, due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19, the Stanley International Dragon Boat Championships has been postponed to Sunday, 11 October 2020. While Hong Kong is among few countries that didn’t record any new cases for some time, the government and citizens are treating the situation seriously, and that includes canceling some of the iconic events, and practicing social distancing

For more health, insurance, and lifestyle blog posts, visit our Pacific Prime Hong Kong blog, and if you have questions regarding health insurance in Hong Kong – simply contact us for advice, free quote, and plan comparisons. 

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime Hong Kong
Elwira Skrybus is a content writer at Pacific Prime. In her everyday work, she is utilizing her previous social media and branding experience to create informative articles, guides, and reports to help our readers simplify the sometimes-puzzling world of international health insurance.

When she isn’t writing, you are most likely to find Elwira in search of the perfect plant-based burger or enjoying Hong Kong’s great outdoors either at the beach or from the boat - the closer to the sea, the better!