- OUR FESTIVAL -
Each year, 70+ teams from the US and worldwide compete over a 500-meter course in an energetic race to the finish line. The teams practice in the spring to prepare for the June races, paddling in sleek, colorful 39-foot-Hong Kong-style dragon boats. Along with dragon boat races, the festival also presents performances from various Asian cultures, Asian food, and arts and crafts representing traditions of this ancient Chinese celebration.
Origins of the
Dragon Boat 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
- Boston's Beginnings -
The Boston Dragon Boat Festival takes place annually on the banks of the Charles River in Boston and Cambridge.
Starting in 1979, the Boston Dragon Boat Festival was the first and oldest such festival in North America.
Since then, the festival has grown from a small neighborhood event commemorating the death in 200 B.C. of the beloved Chinese poet-patriot Qu Yuan to the largest Asian-American cultural event in New England, drawing more than 30,000 participants and spectators each year.