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Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival has been celebrated for over 2,000 years. It is also known as the Double Fifth Festival and is on the fifth day of the fifth moon of the lunar calendar. It usually takes place in mid-June. It is one of the three most important annual Chinese festivals along with Autumn Moon Festival and Chinese New Year.

The story behind this holiday is that a famous poet and hero Qu Yuan drowned himself in 295 BC as a protest against the corrupt government. Now that's making a statement! The people who lived in the area thought he was an honest man and quickly jumped into their boats and tried to rescue him. They beat drums to scare away the fish and threw rice dumplings into the sea to keep the fish from eating Qu.

During this festival people eat rice and meat dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves. They also swim or dip their hands in the water. The most exciting event during this festival has to be the boat races. The unsuccessful rescue attempt is what Dragon Boat Festival is all about - along with cooperation and teamwork.

Special boats over 33 feet (10 meters) long with carved and painted dragon heads and tails are used for the race. Each boat has a crew of 20 to 22 paddlers. Sitting side by side, with a steersman at the back and a drummer at the front, the paddlers race to the sound of pounding drums and a cheering crowd. People are serious about this competition and train well in advance.

Teams from all over the world head to places like Taiwan, China and Japan for some more serious competition. Asia isn't the only place you can check out the festival. Boat races take place all over the world. Most of the races are on the weekend, so if you're not up to much grab a rice dumpling and join the crowd as they cheer racers on.

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