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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.