This colourful festival memorialises China’s first poet of public renown, Qu Yuen, who lived around 2,300 years ago. It is said that Qu Yuen, also an important high official, drowned himself in a river when he became overwhelmed by a defeat in battle and distraught over his beloved country’s future. Legend has it that locals, knowing him to be a good man, tried many things to stop fish from eating Qu Yuen’s body, but it was later found in the whiskers of a water dragon. Others say the fisherman and townsfolk raced out in boats to recover the body and this was how the tradition of dragon boat racing was born.
The Dragon Boat Festival is especially popular in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and the sport of dragon boat racing is developing a significant international following.