Duanwu Jie (Dragon Boat Festival)

Duanwu Jie (Dragon Boat Festival) is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month. The dragon boat festival was created in memory of the famous poet Qu Yuan from the 3rd century BC. At a young age, he was given a high position in the government. According to legend, Qu tried to give wise advice to the king, but the king did not want to hear what he had to say. Since the king was unhappy with him, Qu Yuan was sent to an isolated village where he wrote scholarly books and poems.

When the government of that time was overthrown because the king did not take Qu Yuan’s advice, he tied a rock to himself, jumped into the Miluo River, and drowned. In an attempt to find his body, many of the townspeople rowed boats on the river. They beat drums to scare fish away and they threw rice dumplings into the river to tempt the fish away from eating his body.

Today, people race dragon boats on this day to represent the efforts to rescue Qu Yuan. The dragon boat ranges in length from 50 to 100 feet and can hold up to 80 oarsmen. A wooden dragon head is attached at the bow and a dragon tail at the stern. There is a drum on the boat that is played as the team rows. It is also common for people at this time of year to eat zongzi – pyramid shaped dumplings of rice with a variety of fillings, wrapped in bamboo leaves.

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