Each year on the 5th day of the 5th month, using the lunar calender, the Dragon Boat Festival (duanwu jie 端午节 or “Double Fifth”) is celebrated in China. Among it’s many activities are dragon boat races (hence the English name of the festival) and eating zongzi 粽子, glutenous rice packed in bamboo leaves. There are many different theories about the origin of the festival, but the most well known is the story of Qu Yuan, a Warring States-period poet and statesmen who’s well-intended advice to his ruler, the King of Chu, was ignored, with disastrous consequences. Qu Yuan, known for his famous poem the Lisao 离骚 (Encountering Sorrow), eventually drowned himself in the Miluo river. According to this story, people used boats to try and retrieve his body (origin of the Dragon Boat races), and threw zongzi into the river to prevent the fish from eating his body. In addition to these traditions, there are many local and regional customs related to the Dragon Boat Festival.

This year, the Dragon Boat Festival takes place on 12 June, 2013. Dragon Boat races have spread throughout the world, and many cities these days hold their own dragon boat races on this day.

If you want to learn more about the Dragon Boat Festival, visit ChinaConnectU to read about the origins and traditions of this festival. Or find out who Qu Yuan was or what else was happening during the Warring States period. ChinaConnectU also features an overview of all Chinese festivals and holidays. 端午节快乐!(Happy Dragon Boat Festival!)