Chinese Dragon Boat Festival (端午节 / 端午節 / Duānwǔ Jié) can be a tricky holiday to explain to kids. While the festival is filled with fun traditions, the customs spurred from death of the famous scholar 屈原 (Qūyuán). To help my kids and I learn learn about the history and traditions, we watched Dragon Boat Festival videos on Youtube in English and Chinese.
Similar to Chinese Lunar New Year and Mid Autumn Festival, Dragon Boat Festival brings together family over special recipes. Unique to this holiday are dragon boat races, zongzi rice dumplings, and honoring an ancient Chinese official.
These kid-friendly Dragon Boat Festival videos are in Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese. I hope your children and students find the information interesting and helpful.
Note: This post was originally published in May 2018 (first Facebook share here) and has since been updated with new information.
What is the history behind Chinese Dragon Boat Festival?
Through these videos, we learned that Chinese Dragon Boat Festival has been celebrated for over 2000 years! Traditions are based on the legend of 屈原 (Qūyuán), a poet and loyal official in the Chinese court in the state of Chu.
Although 屈原 (Qūyuán) tried to give advice and warning to his emperor, he was banished into exile for suspected treason. The result was a depressed 屈原 (Qūyuán) who jumped into the Miluo River and died. People took long boats to the river to rescue 屈原 (Qūyuán). According to the legend, 粽子 (zòngzi / sticky rice) was thrown into the river in attempt to prevent the fish from eating 屈原‘s body. Eventually, these events led to the annual dragon boat race and the custom of eating 粽子, sticky rice filled with a variety of foods wrapped in leaves.
Each year, the festival occurs on the fifth day of the fifth month according to the Chinese lunisolar calendar.
Chinese Dragon Boat Festival videos for kids
I’ve included videos about Dragon Boat history, boat races, and delicious recipes! As you’ll see in the videos, details about 屈原 (Qūyuán)’s suicide vary depending on the source; some don’t mention it at all. Please consider pre-watching each video to see if it’s appropriate for your child.
Dragon Boat Festival videos in English and Chinese
These first videos are in English with some Mandarin Chinese. If you’re like me, learning Chinese with your kids, I recommend starting with these beginner videos about Chinese Dragon Boat Festival.
The History Behind Dragon Boat Festival 端午節
This guy gives a quick and clear overview of the Dragon Boat Festival in English.
Learn Chinese Now – Dragon Boat Festival and Eating Zongzi
This video explains that Dragon Boat Festival is a memorial commemorating 屈原. Most of the video is in English with a few key words highlighted in English, Pinyin, and traditional Chinese characters.
The Story of QuYuan: Shadow Puppet Show
This Dragon Boat Festival puppet show for kids explains why we eat rice dumplings and have dragon boat races. Please note that this video depicts the death of Qu Yuan including a stone attached to his body. The story is first narrated in English with subtitles. Around the 2:37 minute mark, the story is narrated in Mandarin Chinese with traditional Chinese subtitles. My kids loved watching this, and we want to try making the shadow puppets!
Dragon Boat Racing Video
Dragon boat racing is a competitive sport in over 50 countries! South China Morning Post shares footage from dragon boat competitions in China, Italy, and Uganda! Also check out this video for a Dragon Boat race in Hong Kong.
How to Make Pork Zongzi Recipe
Angel Wong is a Taiwanese American chef who shares a traditional family pork zonzi recipe! You can download and print the zongzi recipe from her website here.
How to Make Vegan Zongzi Recipe
East Meets Kitchen shares how to make meat-free sticky rice dumplings! All of the recipes on her website are vegan and Asian; written directions for her zongzi recipe can be found here.
Dragon Boat Festival Videos in Mandarin Chinese
For full language immersion, these videos are exclusively in Mandarin Chinese!
Introduction to Dragon Boat Festival – Chinese Class 101
A Chinese teacher explains Dragon Boat Festival in Mandarin Chinese. Subtitles are in simplified Chinese and English! This is one of our favorite channels for brief overviews of various Chinese holidays.
Dragon Boat Festival with Taoshu and Friends
This video about Dragon Boat Festival features a mix of animation with real people in Mandarin Chinese. They also show kids making 粽子! Please note that this video has no subtitles.
Dragon Boat Festival Reenactment Video for Kids
A Taiwanese mom acts out the history of 屈原 (Qūyuán) with Mega Bloks and paper puppets with her child! Her demonstration begins at the 0:48 mark. Subtitles are in traditional Chinese.
鲜肉粽子 Pork Zongzi Recipe
My kids love watching Amanda Tastes! This cooking video has instructions for how to make 鲜肉粽子 Pork Zongzi in Mandarin Chinese. Ingredients are listed in simplified Chinese and English, but otherwise, there are no subtitles.
端午节清水白粽子 Plain Zongzi Recipe
Amanda Tastes also shares how to make 端午节清水白粽子 Plain Zongzi (Rice Dumpling) in Mandarin Chinese. Ingredients are listed in simplified Chinese and English.
碱水红豆粽 Red Bean Paste Zongzi
小高姐的 Magic Ingredients shares a mouth-watering recipe with red bean paste! This is a popular sweet version of sticky rice dumplings! Instructions are in simplified Chinese and English.
李子柒 Liziqi Makes Zongzi
李子柒 Liziqi’s videos are so beautiful and calming. Though the dialogue in Chinese is minimal, each video is a wonderful way to learn about nature and Chinese culture. The occasional subtitle is in simplified Chinese and English. Her Dragon Boat Festival video shows how she collects bamboos from the forest, prepares 粽子, and shares the delicious meal. My kids and I really enjoyed this other 粽子video here!
Dragon Boat Festival Videos in Cantonese
History of Dragon Boat Festival
Similar to Chinese Class 101, the Cantonese version of this channel is a great starting point for learning key vocabulary about Chinese festivals. This video entirely in Cantonese; subtitles are in traditional Chinese, English, and some Jyutping.
The Ultimate Guide to Zongzi / Joong (咸肉粽), Toisanese Style
Made With Lau is an inspiring channel that celebrates authentic Cantonese family recipes! Written instructions with adjustable serving size can be found here.
More Chinese Dragon Boat Festival learning resources for kids
- Children’s Picture Books about Dragon Boat Festival (Chinese and English)
- Felt Chinese Play Food (Dim Sum and Zong Zi)
- Dragon Boat Festival Printable Activities
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