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History of the Dragonboat Festival

Traditionally held on the fifth day of the fifth moon on the lunar calendar, the Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the life and death of the ancient patriot-poet Qu Yuan who lived from 340-278 B.C.

Qu Yuan was a minister who advocated reforms in his home state of Chu. The King refused to listen to Qu Yuan's advice and instead banished him from the state of Chu.


In exile, Qu Yuan wrote poetry expressing his concern for his country and people. In 278, when Qu Yuan heard that his home had been invaded, he drowned himself in the Mi Lo River.

The people of Chu rushed to the river to rescue him. Too late to save Qu Yuan, they splashed furiously and threw zhong-zhi (steamed rice wrapped in reed leaf), into the river as a sacrifice to his spirit and to keep the fish from Qu Yuan's body.

Since then, some 2,000 years ago, dragon boats are raced on rivers in China and people throw zhong-zhi into the river to honor the memory of Qu Yuan

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