The Dragon Boat Festival occurs on the fifth day of the fifth moon of the lunar calendar and in 2008, it will fall on June 08 (Sunday). It is one of three most important annual Chinese festivals. The other two are the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival and Chinese New Year.
The story of this colourful summer festival concerns a famous Chinese scholar-statesman named Chiu Yuan , who, some three centuries before the birth of Christ, served the King of Chu Yuan (340 BC-278 BC or 343-290 B.C.),during the Warring States period. As a loyal minister, Qu Yuan at first enjoyed the full confidence and respect of his sovereign. Eventually, through the intrigues of his rivals, he was discredited and found himself in disfavour.
Chiu Yuan (340 BC-278 BC or 343-290 B.C.), was never able to regain the emperor's favour and on the fifth day of the fifth moon, he clasped a stone to his chest and plunged into the Milo River in the Hunan Province.
Respecting the minister as an upright and honest man, the people who lived in the area jumped into their boats and rushed out in a vain search for him. This unsuccessful rescue attempt is a part of what the Dragon Boat Festival commemorates every year.
Dragon boat racing not only symbolizes the people's attempt to save Chiu Yuan but also demonstrates cooperation and teamwork.
The dragon boat features the head and tail of a dragon, a mythological creature regarded by the Chinese as having dominion over the waters and exercising control over rainfall. The heads and tails are kept ashore during the year and are only affixed for the races. After they have been attached, it is necessary to bring the boats to life. This is done in a ceremony presided over by a Taoist priest and amid burning incense and exploding fire-cracker, the eyes of the dragon head are dotted with paint. Sacrificial paper money is put into the dragon's mouth and also thrown into the water by the rowers. All of this is done to dispel any evil spirits that might be lurking about waiting for an opportunity to disrupt the festivities.
Another popular pastime at the Festival is the making and eating of a rice dumpling called Zong Zi (粽子). When it became known that Chiu Yuan was gone forever, the people, living along the river, threw cooked rice into the water as a sacrifice to their dead hero. The local fishermen were later told in a dream that the fish, not Chiu Yuan, got the rice. Therefore, the next time that they threw rice into the river, they first stuffed it into bamboo sections. This started the custom that has evolved into its present-day version: rice wrapped in bamboo leaves, stuffed with ham, beans, bean paste, salted egg yolks, sausages, nuts, and/or vegetables. 埃德蒙顿华人社
The Dragon Boat Festival is a colourful and enjoyable event. It offers a glimpse of the rich Chinese cultural heritage which is alive and vibrant in multi-cultural around all world..
The custom of Dragon Boat Race might begin from the southern China. They selected the 5rh lunar day of the 5th lunar month as the totem ceremony. The dragon was the main symbol on the totem, because Chinese thought they were son of dragon. They also made dragon-like canoe. Later, Chinese connected this custom with Duan-Wu festival. Since this was the event only in the southern China. This might be why Dragon Boat Race doesn't that popular in entire China today. But we can see yearly Dragon Boat Race events in Honk Hong and Taiwan. The picture shows a person lies on the top of dragon head of the boat to prepare to catch the flag of target to win the race.