History of Festival

In New York, over 100 teams “would join a maritime tradition that stretches back to 278 B.C., when Chinese fishermen tried to rescue an exiled poet who had thrown himself into the Ni Lo River.” 1

Duanwu Jie originated in ancient China. Today the most well known legend centers on a great patriotic poet named Qu Yuan, of the Chu Kingdom during the Warring States Period more than 2,000 years ago. Qu tried to warn the emperor not to ally with the state of Qin, but failed. In despair and protest after his kingdom was conquered, he threw himself into the river and drowned. 2

Local villagers felt so grieved that they threw wrapped rice dumplings, now called zongzi, into the river in hopes that the fishes would eat that instead of his body. Reed leaves grown by the river were used to wrap the glutinous rice dumplings. Boats were also paddled out to scare the fish away so that Qu’s body could be retrieved. This was believed to be the origin of dragon boat racing. 3

  1. Feuer, Alan. “Sweat | 1! (Stroke) 2! (Stroke) Sit Up! Stop Chatting! – NYTimes.com.” Metro – City Room Blog – NYTimes.com. Web. 18 May 2011. <http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/14/sweat-1-stroke-2-stroke-sit-up-stop-chatting/>.
  2. UCLA.edu
  3. xinhuannet.com

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