The 5th day of the 5th lunar month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar is the Chinese Dragon Boat Day. Chinese call this day as Duan Wu Jie. Duan means beginning. Wu means Horse month. Jie means Festival. The Horse month usually begins on June 5th or June 6th every year in the Gregorian calendar. That means Dragon Boat Festival should be held in June, unless that year has Leap Month in the Chinese lunar calendar.
In China, the Dragon Boat Festival memorializes the Chinese patriotic poet Chiu Yuan (340 BC-278 BC or 343-290 B.C.), who committed suicide by jumping into the river after tying himself with big rock on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month.
Chiu Yuan was the number one advisor of the kingdom of Chu . But people were jealous his position and said lots of bad words on his back. The king wouldn't take his advice in the end and was killed by the enemy of neighbor kingdom. The new king continued to enjoy the luxury life and didn't like Chiu Yuan either. Later, Chiu Yuan was exiled. He wrote many patriotic poem after then.
Chiu Yuan met a fisherman, who never cared about the country and quite satisfied his life. Chiu Yuan thought that the king wouldn't run the country, people only cared about themselves, nobody cared the future of the country and to live is meaningless. So he killed himself by drowning himself in the river. Many fishermen tried to rescue him, but the body is never found. Fishermen worried about fish would eat his body. So they threw food into the river to feed the fish. Plus, they tried to scare fish away by splashing the water with their paddles and beating the drums on the long narrow boats.
Then the dragon was added into the story. Fishermen believed there was a water-dragon under the river. One man poured down a big jar of strong yellow wine (made of rice). Later, a drunken dragon-like fish floated on the river. One piece of Chiu Yuan's clothing was found in-between the whisker of the water-dragon.
The Dragon Boat Race
The custom of Dragon Boat Race might begin from the southern China. They selected the 5rh lunar day of the 5th lunar month as the totem ceremony. The dragon was the main symbol on the totem, because Chinese thought they were son of dragon. They also made dragon-like canoe. Later, Chinese connected this custom with Duan Wu Jie. Since this was the event only in the southern China. This might be why Dragon Boat Race doesn't that popular in entire China today. But we can see yearly Dragon Boat Race events in Honk Hong and Taiwan.
Today, 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. You need to check their websites for the schedules. Continue Dragon Boat Story...
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Coming Chinese Dragon Boat Festivals