How did the date of Dragon Boat Festival come about
A portrait of renowned poet Qu Yuan. /CFP
A portrait of renowned poet Qu Yuan. /CFP

A portrait of renowned poet Qu Yuan. /CFP

A festive atmosphere is in the air in China as Dragon Boat Festival approaches on June 22 this year.

Why is Dragon Boat Festival celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month in the traditional Chinese calendar? The origins of this festival are closely associated with the renowned poet Qu Yuan.

Qu Yuan (C. 340–278 BC) was born in the state of Chu during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), a time when seven main states were vying for dominance through territorial expansion.

Legend has it that in 278 BC, the Qin army conquered the capital of Chu. Witnessing the invasion of his homeland, Qu Yuan was deeply anguished. On the fifth day of the fifth month, after penning his final poem, Qu leaped into the Miluo River, sacrificing his life after having composed a magnificent patriotic ode.

To deter fish from feeding on Qu's corpse in the river, people made waves with their boat paddles and fed the fish rice and leaves. These practices developed into the dragon boat races and zongzi, or glutinous rice dumplings, we have today. The fifth day of the fifth month of the traditional Chinese calendar became a festival in honor of his sacrifice, ensuring that the legacy of his unwavering love for his country is remembered for many generations.

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