The Dragon Boat Festival has a long tradition in the Chinese culture. It is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month of the traditional lunar calendar, hence it is sometimes referred to as the Double Fifth Festival. In the Gregorian Calendar, the date of the event varies from year to year, but usually it falls in June – in 2014 it was on June 2nd and in 2015 it will fall on June 20th.
During that day, dragon boat races are held all around Taiwan on rivers and lakes. The story behind the festival goes back to circa 300 B.C. The Double Fifth Festival is a commemoration of Qu Yuan 屈原 – a patriotic scholar, poet and minister who lived during the Warring States period of ancient China. Qu served in high offices, however when the king decided to ally with the more and more powerful state Qin, Qu opposed the decision for which he was banished and accused of treason. Twenty eight years later he was captured and committed suicide by throwing himself into the Miluo River. With this act, he wanted to show integrity and loyalty to his political beliefs and the king, in spite of the exile. The local folks admired Qu and worshipped him for the beautiful poems he wrote. They raced in their boats across the river to save his life. When he could not be found, people threw sticky rice rapped into leaves into the river, to keep fish and shrimp from eating Qu’s body. Till those days the rice dumplings – Zongzi 粽子 – are consumed during the festival.