The Duanwu Festival, known as the Dragon Boat Festival in the west, is a Chinese traditional that began more than 2,000 years ago in the Spring Autumn and Warring States Period. In actual fact, the festival has several different names, including the Duanyang Festival, Chongwu Festival, Tianzhong Festival, Tianchang Festival, and the Festival in May. Before the Tang Dynasty, it was known as “the Fifth Day of the Fifth Lunar Month”, but then it was changed to Duanwu. Duan(端) means the first.
The original of the festival are obscure, and vary according to different folk traditional. One tradition holds that it was to commemorate Wu Zixu, a loyal official of the State of Wu during the Warring State Period. Another tradition believes it was started in memory of Cao E, a filial daughter of the Eastern Han Dynasty. A famous scholar named Wen Yiduo in modern times believed it was originally a totemic sacrifice in the ancient southern Yue and Wu tribes. However the most widespread belief is that it was originally to commemorate the great patriotic poet Qu Yuan.
The Dragon Boat Festival remains to this day one of the favorite festivals of Chinese people. For preservation purposes, it was even been listed as a national holiday.
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