The Dragon Boat : History, Facts and Culture
Qu Yuan, the Legend
There was once a poet called Qu Yuan (340 BC-278 BC) who lived in the state of Chi in China. When the kingdom was about to be attacked, the king asked his advice. The king banished the poet as he disliked his advice. When the poet returned, he found that the warring state had taken over his state. He drowned himself in the river on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar year.
The people there tried to stop the fishes from devouring his body by throwing rice into the river. Then they started sailing their boats to search for Qu.
The fifth day of the fifth lunar month is when the sun is strongest. The sun and the Chinese dragon are often shown together to represent energy.
The dragon symbolizes one who brings rain to the rivers which is needed for the staple food rice to grow.
Dragon Boat Racing
Today the search for Qu is marked by the Dragon Boat Festival or Duanwu, a great Chinese festival, like the Chinese New Year. A dragon boat is a slender, long wooden boat shaped like a dragon; with a dragon’s head in front and tail at the back. Teams cross the river in a race.
Dragon boat racing is usually across half a kilometre. The leader sits in the front, beating his drum to encourage his team. Today, a boat usually has 22 paddlers, a drummer in the front and a steerer at the rear.
In Chinese culture, Zongzi or rice stuffed with meat or sweet delicacies are wrapped in bamboo leaves to look like pyramids and served as auspicious food.
Children wear the “five color thread” on their neck, wrists and ankles which protects them from evil forces.
For more interesting festivals for kids, visit: http://mocomi.com/learn/culture/festivals/