The Dragon Boat Festival is an ancient Chinese holiday that has been celebrated for over 2,000 years. It is held on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, which usually falls in June or July. The festival commemorates the life and death of Qu Yuan, a famous Chinese poet and statesman who lived during the Warring States period (475-221 BC).
The story goes that Qu Yuan was a loyal minister to the King of Chu, but was exiled due to false accusations. In despair, he threw himself into a river and drowned. The local people were so saddened by his death that they raced out in their boats to try and save him. When they failed to find him, they threw food into the river as an offering to his spirit. This is why today people eat zongzi (glutinous rice dumplings) during the festival.
In addition to eating zongzi, people also race dragon boats during this festival. The boats are decorated with dragon heads and tails and are paddled by teams of up to 20 people. This tradition dates back to an ancient legend about a man named Wu Zixu who tried to warn his king about an impending attack from another kingdom. When his warnings were ignored, he committed suicide by jumping into a river and it is said that five dragons appeared in the water trying to save him. To commemorate this event, people began racing dragon boats in his honor.
Today, the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated all over China with parades, performances, and dragon boat races taking place throughout the country. It’s also become popular around the world with many cities hosting their own festivals each year. Whether you’re in China or elsewhere in the world, it’s a great way to learn about Chinese culture and celebrate one of its oldest traditions!