The Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional holiday originated in China during the Warring States Period (476 - 221 BC). The legend says that in 278 BC a famous Chinese poet and minister Qu Yuan drowned himself in the river protesting against the occupation of his country by the State of Qin. People were in mourning and searched for his body sailing their boats down the river. That is how the festival emerged. Even after centuries, people continue to imitate the searching acts to show their respect for this great patriot. Because Qu Yuan died on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, Festival is held each year on that exact day. As the lunar calendar is flexible the date of the festival is also floating, but it usually falls in late May or the first half of June.
At the festival, you can see many local customs such as dragon boat racing, zongzi (a traditional Chinese food, made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings) and many others. The most popular event, of course, is the dragon boat racing. Chinese consider themselves sons of a dragon, which is a very popular mythological creature. You can notice that the boats usually are brightly decorated and range from 40 to 100 feet long, have the front end shaped like an open-mouthed dragon, and the back end like the tail.
As the festival has become international, you can see a lot of international participants from Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong competing in Suzhou Creek in Putuo, between Jiangning Lu and Changhua Lu bridges.