The Duanwu Festival (Dragon Boat Festival)

International Dragon Boat Race, Guangzhou

The Duanwu Festival (also known as Dragon Boat Festival) is a traditional and statutory holiday associated with Chinese cultures, though it is celebrated in other East Asian and Southeast Asian societies as well. The Duanwu Festival occurs on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar, giving rise to the alternative name of Double Fifth.
The Duanwu Festival is believed to have originated in ancient China. A number of theories exist about its origins as a number of folk traditions and explanatory myths are connected to its observance. Today the best known of these relates to the suicide in 278 BC of Qu Yuan, poet and statesman of the Chu kingdom during the Warring States period. Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth month.
It is said that the local people, who admired him, threw food into the river to feed the fish so that they would not eat Qu Yuan’s body. This is said to be the origin of zongzi. The local people were also said to have paddled out on boats, either to scare the fish away or to retrieve his body. This is said to be the origin of dragon boat racing.
The taste of Zongzi, a pyramid-shaped dumpling made of glutinous rice and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves to give it a special flavor, varies greatly across China. You can find all sorts of different fillings in the rice: pork, roast pork, chestnut, egg, salted egg, mushroom, red bean, or just simply without filling and fresh bamboo leaves are the best for the wrapping since the taste and smell of the fresh bamboo leaves is part of zongzi. They could be just white rice dumpling (not pre-fried), or brown Most people still maintain the tradition of eating Zongzi on the day of the Duanwu Festival. But the special delicacy has become so popular that you can now buy it all the year round.
Nowadays, you can buy Zongzi almost everyday of the year, in restaurants or hawker stores in most oriental countries such as China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore, and other Asian countries where large amount of Chinese reside.
Duanwu is also known as the Dragon Boat Festival, because dragon boat races are the most popular activity during the festival, especially in Southern China. A dragon boat is shaped like a dragon, and is brightly painted in red, white, yellow and black. Dragon boat racing is quite a spectacle, with drums beating, colorful flags waving, and thousands of people cheering on both sides of the river. Nowadays, it has become a popular sporting activity in Southern China.
Now, the Dragon Boat Race becomes an international event. This sport is popular in USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, Taiwan, Honk Hong, Singapore etc. Some organization’s events aren’t held around the Dragon Boat Festival. Some are in July, August or September.

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