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15 July 2015

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Origin

2017-05-20 Download Print Comment

Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional Chinese festival. It has a profound history of more than two thousand years. Chinese people call Dragon Boat Festival "Duanwu Festival", as "Duan" means the beginning of May and "Wu", which is pronounced the same as "five" in Chinese, means the fifth day. In other words, the fifth day of the fifth lunar month is Dragon Boat Festival.  

  

Although there are a lot of versions of the origin of Dragon Boat Festival, it is generally believed that the legend of Dragon Boat Festival is related to a historical figure: Qu Yuan. Qu was an official and patriotic poet of the state of Chu in the Warring States Period. Intelligent as he was, he became a senior state official when he was 25 years old. His capability won the recognition of King Huai of Chu (reigned 328-288 BC). Qu was said to have advocated a policy of alliance with the other kingdoms of the period against the hegemonic Qin state, which threatened to dominate them all. However, the king fell under the influence of other corrupt, jealous ministers who slandered Qu Yuan and banished his most loyal counselors. Consequently, the king became estranged from Qu and he banished Qu from the capital of Chu finally. In 278 BC, learning of the capture of his country's capital, Ying, by General Bai Qi of the state of Qin, Qu Yuan is said to have written the lengthy poem of lamentation called "Lament for Ying" and later to have waded into the Miluo River in today's Hunan Province holding a great rock in order to commit ritual suicide. That day was the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.  

 

When people heard the news that Qu Yuan was dead, they were so grieved that they rowed to get his body, but failed. Since then people rowed dragon boats on river to mourn for Qu Yuan. To save the body from fish, people began to throw rice into Miluo River to distract the attention of fish. Hearsay has it that people dreamt that Qu Yuan told them to wrap the rice with leaves and fasten it with threads so as to frighten fish away. Thus, zongzi came into being and had been passed down. 

  

Today, eating zongzi and rowing dragon boats have been characteristic customs of Dragon Boat Festival.