The Origin of Dragon Boat Festival

Quyuan and the Dragon Boat FestivalThe Dragon Boat Festival (aka Duanwu Festival) is believed to be originated in ancient China. There are a number of theories about its origins. There are also a number folk traditions, beliefs and explanatory myths connected to the observance. Today, the best, most widely accepted version is that the Duanwu festival originated in memory of the patriotic poet Qu Yuan (340-278 BC) who lived in the Chu State during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC).

The best-known traditional story holds that the festival commemorates the death by suicide of poet Qu Yuan, a Confucius scholar and minister of the ancient Chu state during the Warring States period. Qu Yuan, a descendant of the Chu royal family, served in high offices in his state. He wrote influential Chinese literary works like "Li Sao", including poetry. He is commonly referred to as a a great patriotic "poet" and a "statesperson". works in literature. However, he is more properly considered as a ministerial Confucius scholar.

Duanwu Festival ChinaQu Yuan always put forward policies and encouraged the king of Chu to make his state stronger independently. Qu Yuan' measures were carried out and his state become thriving and strong. Unfortunately, the good time did't last long. He was entrapped by evil speech and dismissed by the king because of his action against alliance between Chu state and Qin State. During his exile, Qu Yuan wrote a great deal of famous literary works to express deep worry about his state. Qu Yuan's worry was proved to be right. Twenty-eight years later, Qin conquered the Chu capital. In despair at not being able to halt the decline the state, he drowned himself in the Miluo Rover on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.

Heard Qu Yuan's suicide, the local people who admired his patriotic action rowed their boats out onto the river to search for his corpse. At the same time, some people threw food into the water to prevent Qu Yuan's corpse from being eaten by prawns, fish and crabs.

Despite the modern popularity of the Qu Yuan origin theory, in the former territory of the state of Wu the festival commemorated Wu Zixu (526 BC - 484 BC). Like Qu Yuan, Wu Zixu was a loyal advisor whose advice was ignored by the king to the detriment of the kingdom. Wu Zixu was forced to commit suicide by the king Fuchai, with his body thrown into the river on the fifth day of the fifth month. After his death, Wu Zixu was revered as a river god. The local people used the ways (similar to that people used for Qu Yuan) as sacrifice ritual to worship the river god. In places such as Suzhou, in Jiangsu province, Wu Zixu is remembered during the Dragon Boat Festival to this day.

It is said the the food the people threw into the river water is the origin of Zongzi (Chinese rice dumplings). It is said to be the origin of dragon boat racing that the local people were paddling out on boats onto the the local river. that is what the Chu people used their ways to offer mourning to Quyuan after his death. The date and the ways were developed into a custom, troditiona and festival now.

Modern researchers have theorized that the commemoration of Qu Yuan or Wu Zixu were superimposed onto an existing holiday tradition, but has subsequently overtaken the original significance. More people agree that traditional rituals of the Duanwu Festival represent offerings to the Gods and worship of dragon king and mostly relate to avoiding diseases and luck blessings in Chinese culture.

Recommended China Tour Packages

Questions & Answers about The Origin of Dragon Boat Festival

Ask Question

Share to