The annual Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Jie, is the subject of today’s Doodle. On the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, the event always takes place. On June 3rd, people from all across Asia will assemble to witness dragon-shaped boats race along river banks and lakes.
The event started in China almost 2,000 years ago to honour Qu Yuan, a great poet. Qu Yuan drowned himself in the Miluo River after the Chu State was defeated in 278 B.C. as a final act of loyalty to the King of Chu. Villagers reportedly boarded their boats and dropped rice dumplings into the lake to keep fish away from the poet’s body, according to folklore.
In Chinese agriculture, the fifth lunar month is also regarded as a “poisonous” month because summer is the peak season for insects and pests. To keep insects at bay, traditional Duanwu Jie customs include hanging mugwort leaves and herbs on doors and windows.
The exciting dragon boat race is, of course, the festival’s most popular tradition today. The boats can accommodate crews of up to 90 people, including a drummer who serves as a source of morale and sets the tempo. The race is frequently watched by locals while sipping realgar wine and eating zongi, a sticky rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves.
To everyone, a happy Dragon Boat Festival! Let’s get started rowing.