Dragon Boat Festival (Duanwu Jie)
The traditional Chinese Dragon Boat (Duanwu) Festival takes place every year in May and has a strong position in Wuhan and is dedicated to the memory of the great politician and poet Qu Yuan, who was an advisor to King Huai of Chu in the state of Chu in the Warring States period (475-221 B.C.). The Dragon Boat Festival is is celebrated all over China on the fifth day of the fifth moon, or month, of the lunar calendar.
According to the legend Qu Yuan was a brilliant advisor that understood the threats from the states surrounding the kingdom of Chu but King Huai was not interested in his advice, so Qu was banished to an isolated village, where he lived for seven years writing great poems. When he one day in 278 B.C. heard, that his predictions had all come true, he drowned himself, at the age of 62, in the Miluo River, hoping that his death could get King Huai to revitalize the Kingdom of Chu. The fishermen in the village tried to rescue Qu by rowing their dragon boats along the river beating drums while their wives threw wrapped rice into the river hoping that fishes would eat them instead of Ch’u Yuan’s body. The day was May 5th of the Chinese lunar calendar and still at a traditional Dragon Boat festival in China people eat zongzi (cone-shaped steamed glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves).
Today there are Dragon Boat Clubs all over the world and this old Chinese tradition is today a science with fibreglass boats and state of the art shape and style for the hull to create the fastest boats. Of course there are still boats being made in traditional materials but they are more heavy and require a lot more care and maintenance.
Authorities in Hubei province have submitted an application to UNESCO nominating China’s Dragon Boat Festival for the “Intangible Culture Heritage” tag.