At the end of the Zhou Dynasty, the area we now know as China had fallen into a state of fragmentation and conflict. While the Zhou dynasty had ruled for several centuries, several other states, originally feudal domains, tried to carve out their own kingdoms. The state of Qin would eventually emerge the victor and unify all of China under one rule for the first time in history.
Qu Yuan served as minister to the Zhou Emperor. A wise and articulate man, he was loved by the common people. He did much to fight against the rampant corruption that plagued the court-- thereby earning the envy and fear of other officials. Therefore, when he urged the emperor to avoid conflict with the Qin Kingdom, the officials pressured the Emperor to have him removed from service. In exile, he traveled, taught and wrote for several years. Hearing that the Zhou had been defeated by the Qin, he fell into despair and threw himself into the Milou River. His last poem reads:
Many a heavy sigh I have in my despair,Grieving that I was born in such an unlucky time.I yoked a team of jade dragons to a phoenix chariot,And waited for the wind to come,to sour up on my journey
As he was so loved by the people, fishermen rushed out in long boats, beating drums to scare the fish away, and throwing zong zi into the water to feed braver fish so that they would not eat Qu Yuan's body.
The Modern Dragon Boat Festival started from that time to this day, people commemorated Qu Yuan through Dragon Boat Races, eating zong zi, and several other activities, on the anniversary of his death: the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.
Dragon Boat races are the most exciting part of the festival, drawing crowds of spectators. Dragon Boats are generally brightly painted and decorated canoes. Ranging anywhere from 40 to 100 feet in length, their heads are shaped like open-mouthed dragons, while the sterns end with a scaly tail. Depending on the length, up to 80 rowers can power the boat. A drummer and flag-catcher stand at the front of the boat. Before a dragon boat enters competition, it must be "brought to life" by painting the eyes in a sacred ceremony. Races can have any number of boats competing, with the winner being the first team to grab a flag at the end of the course. Annual races take place all over China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and other overseas Chinese communities.
Dragon Boat race Traditions At the center of this festival are the dragon boat races. Competing teams drive their colorful dragon boats forward to the rhythm of beating drums. These exciting races were inspired by the villager's valiant attempts to rescue Chu Yuan from the Mi Lo river. This tradition has remained unbroken for centuries.(中国作文网 www.t262.com)
Tzung Tzu A very popular dish during the Dragon Boat festival is tzung tzu. This tasty dish consists of rice dumplings with meat, peanut, egg yolk, or other fillings wrapped in bamboo leaves. The tradition of tzung tzu is meant to remind us of the village fishermen scattering rice across the water of the Mi Low river in order to appease the river dragons so that they would not devour Chu Yuan.
Ay Taso The time of year of the Dragon Boat Festival, the fifth lunar moon, has more significance than just the story of Chu Yuan. Many Chinese consider this time of year an especially dangerous time when extra efforts must be made to protect their family from illness. Families will hang various herbs, called Ay Tsao, on their door for protection. The drinking of realgar wine is thought to remove poisons from the body. Hsiang Bao are also worn. These sachets contain various fragrant medicinal herbs thought to protect the wearer from illness.
The Dragon Boat Festival， also called the Duanwu Festival， is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month according to the Chinese calendar. This festival is to commemorate the death of QU Yuan， an upright and honest poet and statesman who is said to have committed suicide by drowning himself in a river.
The most important activity of this festival is the Dragon Boat races. It symbolizes people‘s attempts to rescue Qu Yuan. In the current period， these races also demonstrate the virtues of cooperation and teamwork.
Besides， the festival has also been marked by eating zong zi （glutinous rice）。 Zong zi is made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. People who mourned the death of Qu threw Zong zi into the river to feed his ghost every year.
With the changes of the times， the memorial turns to be a time for protection from evil and disease for the rest of year. People will hang healthy herbs on the front door to clear the bad luck of the house. Although the significance of the festival might be different with the past， it still gives the observer an opportunity to glimpse a part of the rich Chinese cultural heritage.