The Dragon Boat Festival has a history of more than 2,000 years, and is believed to have originated during the Warring States period. A number of legends, associated with (sometimes deified) patriotic poet Qu Yuan, attempt to explain its origins and traditions.
Qu Yuan (340–278 BC), poet and statesman of the Chu Kingdom during the Warring States period. Qu Yuan wrote a great deal of poetry, for which he is now remembered.
A descendant of the Chu royal family, Qu Yuan served in high offices. When the king decided to ally with the increasingly powerful state of Qin, Qu Yuan failed to persuade him not to do so, and was banished for opposing the alliance. Later he was accused of treason and exiled.
Twenty-eight years later, the Qin State conquered the capital of Chu. In despair, Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.
It is said that:
Dragon Boat Festival traditions resulting from these legends are racing dragon boats, eating zongzi, and drinking realgar wine in commemoration of the great patriot Qu Yuan.
Back to the Dragon Boat Festival summary page.