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    China's Dragon Boat Festival Gets Underway

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    • China's Dragon Boat Festival Gets Underway
    • China's Dragon Boat Festival Gets Underway
    • China's Dragon Boat Festival Gets Underway
    • China's Dragon Boat Festival Gets Underway
    • China's Dragon Boat Festival Gets Underway
    • China's Dragon Boat Festival Gets Underway
    • China's Dragon Boat Festival Gets Underway
    • China's Dragon Boat Festival Gets Underway
    • China's Dragon Boat Festival Gets Underway
    • China's Dragon Boat Festival Gets Underway
    • China's Dragon Boat Festival Gets Underway
    • China's Dragon Boat Festival Gets Underway
    © AP Photo/ Mark Schiefelbein
    Performers adjust their costumes backstage before the opening ceremony of the Dragon Boat Festival at the Olympic Water Park in Beijing, China, on May 30.

    The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as the Duanwu Festival, is a traditional holiday originating in China, which has been held annually for more than 2,000 years in the days close to the summer solstice. In 2017, the event falls on May 30.

    On the Dragon Boat Festival day, celebrations include eating zongzi (sticky rice treats with different stuffing and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves), drinking traditional realgar wine and, of course, racing dragon boats.

    According to one of the legends, the Dragon Boat Festival is based on the suicide of the poet and statesman of ancient China in 278 BC Qu Yuan, who was known for his patriotism and wisdom. He was falsely accused of conspiracy and exiled by the king. Qu Yuan drowned himself by attaching a heavy stone to his chest and jumping into the Miluo River. Local people, who admired him and believed he was an honorable man, raced out in their boats to save him or at least retrieve his body. They beat drums and splashed the water with their paddles in order to keep the fish and evil spirits away from Qu Yuan. When he was not found, they dropped balls made of sticky rice into the river so that the fish would eat them instead of Qu Yuan's body. This is said to be the boat races are connected to eating zongzi.

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