On the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, many Chinese cities commemorate the death of the great Chinese poet Qu Yuan with a tradition known as the Dragon Boat Festival. Like the recent Ching Ming Festival, on April 4th (Lunar: March 14th), the Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional Chinese festival. Although the festival originates from the south of China, Chengdu, a northwestern city, also hosts dragon boat races every year. This tradition has a richly textured history:
Zongzi is a pyramid-shaped dumpling made of rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. Many families prepare their own Zongzi before the Dragon Boat Festival; often they gift friends and relatives with Zongzi. In villages in the countryside, families and neighbors often work together help to make Zongzi. The main ingredient is glutinous rice. Different recipes also include dates, jujube, meats, lotus, chestnuts and egg yolks.
But the Dragon Boat races are the crown jewel event of the Dragon Boat Festival. Racing the Dragon boats is a tradition that also dates back to the death of Qu Yuan. By propelling their colorfully decorated boats along the water, the rowers are symbolizing the ancient people who once searched the river for Qu Yuan's body and made noises to frighten the fish away from eating Qu Yuan's body. Dragon Boat races are quite loud! Boatmen grunt, strain and splash to the row their boat faster than their competitors while the captain of the boat crew sits at the bow of a boat banging a drum to motivate his rowers and waving a flag to boost morale. The rowers' job is to keep the pace with their teammates by rowing in synch in order to win the race.