The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival has a long history dating back thousands of years. Duan-wu Festival is usually celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month on the Chinese lunar calendar.
This year, it is officially celebrated on May 28, 2009.
The Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the popular Chinese patriot, Qu Yuan. (Chu Yuan) who in the 3rd century in protest of a corrupt government threw himself into the Mi Lo River in despair.
Upon hearing the news, local people frantically raced out in boats to save him, and to scare away any fish who might want to eat him pounded drums and threw rice into the river – but, sadly, they arrived too late. As legend has it, boat races and ceremonial sacrifices of rice were performed each year to symbolize the valiant attempts to rescue Qu Yuan. Today, rice dumplings or zongzi are eaten to symbolize the rice offerings on behalf of Qu Yuan.
Dragon Boat Racing
Along with the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival and Chinese New Year, the Dragon Boat Festival is one of the most significant in China, celebrated by colorful and lively races featuring narrow boats shaped like dragons.
Entire regattas of dragon boats compete to see who is the swiftest as individual rowing teams keep in time with drummers pounding out furious rhythms.
Superstitions associated with the Dragon Boat Festival include protection against plagues and illnesses caused by moist, warm weather and so xiangbao (fragrant pouches of herbs) are traditionally tied around the necks of children during the festival. Among adults, successful warding off of summer illness begins with imbibing a healthy dose of hsiung huang, a special rice wine.