Duanwu Jie

Dragon Boat Festival, or Duanwu Jie, weekend is here and that means boat races, rice dumplings wrapped with leaf and looks like dancing. Street dancing was in full effect tonight. 

Photo: Charlane Brady

What is the story behind the festival?

According to the most popular theory, the Dragon Boat Festival, or Duanwu Jie, is celebrated now in China to commemorate the death of poet, Qu Yuan, over two thousand years ago.

Qu Yuan was a high-ranking minister to the king of the ancient state of Chu who decided to ally with the state of Qin, one of the most powerful states at that time. Qu Yuan believed that the stake was too high and opposed the alliance of Chu and Qin. However, the king had made up his mind and Qu Yuan was accused of treason and banished.

Unable to serve his state, Qu Yuan wrote a lot of poems while he was on exile. When he learned that Qin had conquered the capital of his state 28 years later, he drowned himself on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.

Why are people celebrating this day?

Popular folklore has it that the local people, who admired Qu Yuan, paddled out on boats and threw rice dumplings into the river to feed the fish so that the poet's body could be saved.

Overtime, the ritual had evolved. People are no longer throwing lumps of rice into the river. Instead, they eat zongzi, a kind of rice dumpling wrapped with leaf and race dragon boats to celebrate the day.

What can people do to celebrate in 2012?

Stuff yourselves with a few zongzi, then head to Suzhou Creek to watch a dragon boat race organized by Shanglong Dragon Boat Club. According to information released on their website, spectators can get there by taking the Metro Line 3/4 to Zhongtan Lu. The race venue is adjacent to a residential area call Zhongyuan Liangwan Cheng.

Note: this information is from Why We're Getting a Four Long Weekend article