The Dragon Boat Festival, also called the Duanwu Festival has been marked by eating zong zi (glutinous rice wrapped to form a pyramid using bamboo or reed leaves) and racing dragon boats for thousands of years.
The festival is best known for its dragon-boat races, especially in the southern provinces where there are many rivers and lakes. This regatta commemorates the death of Qu Yuan, an honest minister who is said to have committed suicide by drowning himself in a river.
Qu was a minister of the State of Chu situated in present-day Hunan and Hubei provinces, during the Warring States Period (475-221BC). He was upright, loyal and highly esteemed for his wise counsel that brought peace and prosperity to the state.
However, when a dishonest and corrupt prince vilified Qu, he was disgraced and dismissed from office. Realizing that the country was now in the hands of evil and corrupt officials, Qu grabbed a large stone and leapt into the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth month. Nearby fishermen rushed over to try and save him but were unable to even recover his body. Thereafter, the state declined and was eventually conquered by the State of Qin.
The people of Chu who mourned the death of Qu threw rice into the river to feed his ghost every year on the fifth day of the fifth month. But one year, the spirit of Qu appeared and told the mourners that a huge reptile in the river had stolen the rice. The spirit then advised them to wrap the rice in silk and bind it with five different-colored threads before tossing it into the river.
For more details, please go to: ChinaDaily. (2013). Dragon Boat Festival Ⅱ.