ZIGUI, Hubei - In Wang Lanzu's 62 years of memories, her hometown of Zigui - also the hometown of Qu Yuan, the legendary character behind the Dragon Boat Festival - has never had a better celebration.
More than 200 teams compete at a dragon boat race in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, on Wednesday as the nation celebrated the Dragon Boat Festival. Photo By Li Zhong / For China Daily
"So many people come to visit Zigui. I feel so proud," Wang Lanzu happily told China Daily on Wednesday.
Qu Yuan was a patriotic poet who lived in 300 BC. He jumped into the Miluo River in northeast Hunan province to prove his loyalty to his home country, and was drowned.
The Dragon Boat Festival, which is held to commemorate Qu Yuan on lunar May 5 every year, is an important traditional holiday in China. But this year, the Dragon Boat Festival held even more significance for all Chinese.
In September 2009, the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization honored the Dragon Boat Festival as a World Intangible Heritage. The Dragon Boat Festival, which includes racing boats, eating zongzi dumplings and observing other folk customs, is the first festival in the history of China to be named a World Intangible Heritage.
Zigui, which is located in southwest Hubei province, was chosen to hold the annual dragon boat racing competition after their successful application for World Intangible Heritage status. And this year's celebration, including the dragon boat racing and a culture forum, were co-hosted by the Ministry of Culture, the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council and the Hubei provincial government.
"Though we keep celebrating the same customs for more than 2,000 years in Zigui, we locals never imagined we could attract so many visitors, especially our Taiwan compatriots," Wang Lanzu said.
Yu Guangzhong, a famous Taiwan poet who wrote the poem Nostalgia, wrote his seventh poem this year - this one commemorating Qu Yuan. Yu took it to Zigui for the celebration this week.
"The Dragon Boat Festival is also important in Taiwan. People on both sides of the Straits have a common understanding of the festival. They share a consensus of the culture," Yu said.
Besides Yu, more than 100 descendants of Qu Yuan from Taiwan also took part in the festival.
"For our Qu family in Taiwan, the Dragon Boat Festival is the most exciting day," said Qu Zhongji, a villager from Qujia village in Changhua, Taiwan.
People in Zigui started celebratory activities last Saturday. Folk artists made small embroidered bags and presented them in galleries. Married couples took their young daughters to their parents' home to avoid "evil things going on in the summer." People bathed in water marinated in herbs, and they applied wine to the foreheads of babies.
Now that the Dragon Boat Festival is over, Zigui still expects more tourists to come.
"It's encouraging to see so many people coming to my hometown to celebrate the festival," said Xie Yongyin, a 16-year-old student from Zigui County Vocational Education Center. "I would like to be a tour guide in the future. That's my long-time dream."