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Dragon boat delights

2014-06-02 09:19:34

(China Daily)


A look at the origins and traditions of Duanwu Festival and how people celebrate across the country

Dragon Boat Festival, or Duanwu, is one of the three most important traditional Chinese festivals, the other two being the Lunar New Year and Mid-Autumn.

There are several stories that explain the festival's origin and the most popularly accepted tale is that Duanwu started to commemorate Qu Yuan, a minister and poet of the Chu Kingdom in the Warring States Period (475-221BC).

It is said that Qu antagonized officials, was accused of treason and was exiled by the king. In despair he committed suicide by jumping into the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.

Local admirers raced out in boats to try and save him and when he was not found people dropped balls of sticky rice into the river so fish would eat them instead of his body.

For these reasons people celebrate the festival by holding dragon boat races and eating Zongzi, sticky rice snacks filled with savory and sweet fillings wrapped in bamboo leaves.

People also use herbs, such as Ay Tsao, to hang in their homes or have baths with to protect from illness and drink realgar wine, which was allegedly poured into the river to poison monsters and protect Qu.

Children show off their Zongzi making efforts at a kindergarten in Puyang, Henan province. [Photo/China Daily]
A villager installs the head of a dragon boat in preparation for its maiden trip in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. Villagers hope the boat will bring luck to the village [Photo/China Daily]
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