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Chinese Culture >> Chinese Society Traditions

Duanwu Festival, Dragon Boat Festival

Duanwu Festival, or Dragon Boat Festival. June 08, 2008 is Duanwu Festival, or popularly called Dragon Boat Festival. Duanwu Festival falls on the fifth date of the fifth month of Chinese lunar calendar. So each each year' Duanwu Festival has its different date due to the dynamic beginning of the Chinese lunar new year. This year's Duanwu Festival falls on June 08, 2008.

Our central government has designated Duanwu Festival as a National Holiday starting from the year 2008 as a kind of active measure to promote and protect the Chinese traditonal culture. For the Dwuan Festival, people enjoy one day for holiday. For this year's Dwuanwu Festival, people also have one-no-work-day on June 09 since June 08 is Sunday. So people don't have to work on June 09 ( Monday), 2008. It is really a good idea to set Duanwu Festival as a legal national holiday to carry on our Chinese traditional culture. This morning, I say hello to my Son - Li Rui and asked him about some knowledge of the origin of Dwuanwu Festival. His answer is quite disappointing and betrays the need for the protecton of Chinese traditional holiday on a national level.

The Duanwu Festival originated in ancient China with a history over 2000 years. There are quite a few of theories relative its origins. Today, the most commonly accepted story is linked to the death of poet Qu Yuan in 278 BC. There are, however, more competing theories. The great poet Qu Yuan (c. 340 BC - 278 BC) lived in the ancient state of Chu, in the Warring States Period of the Zhou Dynasty. A son of the Chu royal family, Qu served in high position at royal office. However, when the king planned to co-operate with the daily increasingly powerful state of Qin, Qu Yuan was driven away from his own state for being against the alliance. In his exile, Qu Yuan wrote a great number of poems, which made he remembered by people generation after generation. Finally Qin conquered the Chu capital 28 years later. Wrapped in despair, Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth month of Chinese lunar year. It is said that the local people, with great love for him, threw food into the river to feed the fish keeping Qu Yuan from being eatenby the fish. Later every, people began to serve fish with dumpling wrapped in leaves. This is also said to be the origin of zongzi - the rice dumpling with fillings wrapped in bamboo leaves. Later to either to scare the fish away or to retrieve Qu's body, people hold a festival competition with the special Dragon Boat. This is also said to be the origin of dragon boat racing. So during Duanwu Festival, people usually do two things - Eating Zongzi and having dragon boat racing to commemorate Qu Yuan.  

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