This festival falls on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month. Along with Dragon Boat Races, customs on this day include eating zongzi (rice wrapped in leaves) and hanging "fragrant
pouches" of cloth wrapped with colored silk threads.
The festival has its roots in ancient Chinese history. Qu Yuan,
China's first great poet, lived at a time when various parts of
China were at war with each other. Qu Yuan tried to provide advice to
help his government. But, as legend has it, the king did not appreciate
his advice, and with evil men twisting his words and making his
situation worse, Qu Yuan was exiled from his homeland. When his homeland
fell into enemy hands, his despair grew so deep that he threw himself
into the Miluo River (in today's Hunan province of China) on the 5th
day of the 5th lunar month. The people of his village raced to the
river to save him in their dragon boats, but were too late. They later
threw rice in the river as a sacrifice to him. Afraid that the fish
would eat the rice, they began wrapping it in reed leaves and wound silk
threads around the packets before dropping them into the river. Dragon
Boat Races were held each anniversary in commemoration of Qu Yuan.
Today, many cities around the world now hold Dragon Boat Races on nearby
rivers as a fun summer-time event.