Knowledge of Chinese Culture
It is held on the fifth day
of the fifth moon, but the preceding days shadow forth the feast day as well. It
originated in the commemoration of Qu Yuan, a great poet and a minister of state whose
remonstrances were unheeded by his unworthy sovereign, and whose only reward was
degradation and dismissal, some 450 years B.C. (the Warring States). He committed suicide
by drowning. On the first anniversary of his death, the ceremony of looking for his
body was commenced; it has been continued on succeeding anniversaries ever since, and has
resulted in this festival. Afraid of his body being eaten by fish, little packages of
boiled rice done up in bamboo leaves were thrown into the river where Qu Yuan drowned;
instead of throwing these rice packages into the river, people eat them at the festival.
The dragon-boats contest is one of the festival's important activities. The
Dragon-Boat Feast is one of the four most important festivals: New Year' Eve, Moon
Festival, Winter Solstice Festival.