The Dragon Boat Festival
The Dragon Boat Festival also called Duanwu Festival (端午节, Duān wū Jié) is a traditional Chinese festival held on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar. It is also known as the Double Fifth. It has since been celebrated, in various ways, in other parts of East Asia as well. In the West, it's commonly known as Dragon Boat Festival.
The exact origins of Duanwu are unclear, but one traditional view holds that the festival memorializes the Chinese poet Qu Yuan (c. 340 BC-278 BC) of the Warring States Period. He committed suicide by drowning himself in a river because he was disgusted by the corruption of the Chu government. The local people, knowing him to be a good man, decided to throw food into the river to feed the fish so they would not eat Qu's body. They also sat on long, narrow paddle boats called dragon boats, and tried to scare the fish away by the thundering sound of drums aboard the boat and the fierce looking carved dragon head on the boat's prow.
In the early years of the Chinese Republic, Duanwu was also celebrated as "Poets' Day," due to Qu Yuan's status as China's first poet of personal renown.
Today, people eat bamboo-wrapped steamed glutinous rice dumplings called zongzi (the food originally intended to feed the fish) and race dragon boats in memory of Qu's dramatic death.