Why do the Chinese paddle dragon boats?

Dragon boat racing is one of the most important customs of the Dragon Boat Festival in China. This is also the most festive folk activities on this day, which super popularized in southern China, where people are really competitively racing the boats to the drumbeats. In northern Chinese cities dragon boat racing also take place near rivers and lakes, but the race are much less competitive and have evolved into dance performances on the shores rather than racing in the waters.

Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated every year on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. It initially started as a summer festival to drive away the plagues and to worship the dragon protectorate. This tradition was later infused with a second layer of memorial purpose, commemorating a number of Chinese historical figures important to the local history. The most widely known figure among them is the poet Qu Yuan from the state Chu during the Warring States era, who committed suicide in the Miluo River and became a martyr on the fifth day of the fifth month. In 1939 this festival was officialized as the day to commemorate the patriotic poet Qu Yuan. The day Qu Yuan passed away is recognized as the Poet’s Day and the annual Dragon Boat Festival takes place on the same day for his commemoration.

赛龙舟是中国端午节的习俗之一,也是端午节最重要的节日民俗活动之一,在中国南方地区普遍存在,在北方靠近河湖的城市也有赛龙舟习俗,而大部分是划旱龙舟舞龙船的形式。 端午节每年农历五月初五庆祝,最初是夏季驱离瘟神和祭龙的节日,后来加入纪念多位华人地区历史人物,最广为人知的是纪念战国时代楚国诗人屈原,他在五月初五这天投汨罗江自杀殉国,1939年为纪念爱国诗人屈原,议定每年端午节屈原逝世之日为诗人节。

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