Dragon Boat Festival

As we enter the month of June, we find ourselves already in the middle of the year. However, according to the Chinese lunar calendar, the fifth month just begins and the Chinese people are preparing to celebrate another traditional festival-the Dragon Boat Festival. It falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, hence it is also called Duanwu Jie (Duanwu Festival) in Chinese. For thousands of years, Duanwu has been marked by eating Zongzi and racing dragon boats.

It is generally believed that the festival originated to celebrate the memory of the ancient patriotic poet Qu Yuan. Qu Yuan, a native of the State of Chu during the Warring States Period, repeatedly offered his king proposals aimed at forestalling political corruption. Subsequently, slandered by treacherous court officials, he was sent into exile by the same king he had tried to help. In 278 B.C., the capital of the State of Chu was lost to its enemy the State of Qin and Qu Yuan drowned himself in despair on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. 

Aware of the tragedy, the local people living beside the river went out in their boats to try to find his corpse. Every year thereafter on thisday people continued to row dragon boats on their local rivers in memory of Qu Yuan's life and death, throwing sections of bamboo filled with rice into the river as an offering. Legend has it that someone once met Qu Yuan's spirit on the bank of the river and was told: "The food you have given me has all been taken away by the dragon. Hereafter, you should wrap the rice in bamboo leaves tied with five-colored thread. 

These are the two things that the dragon is most afraid of." Thus, people began to make zongzi, glutinous rice wrapped in a pyramid shape using bamboo or reed leaves. Today, zongzi is the traditional food for the Dragon Boat Festival still eaten in memory of Qu Yuan.

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