China

Through the Seasons / Four Festivals

Dragon Boat Festival

The fifth day of the fifth lunar month is Dragon Boat Festival. The festival is most commonly associated with the legend of Qu Yuan, a poet and court official who drowned himself in 278 BCE to protest imperial corruption. According to legend, grieving villagers searched for his body and threw rice in the water so that fish would eat it instead of the poet. Today people commemorate Qu Yuan through traditions such as racing ornate dragon boats, wearing perfumed sachets, and eating sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves.

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Dragon boats race in the waters near Aberdeen Harbor, Hong Kong. Photo courtesy of Hong Kong SAR

Four Festivals