For thousands of years, Chinese festivals have celebrated the pursuit of happiness and good health. The dragon boat festival traditionally occurs when young rice shoots have been planted and the summer rains begin. To honor the river dragon, long narrow boats were constructed in its image. Races were held in the belief they would bring bountiful crops.
Another belief is that dragon boat racing began in memory of Qu Yuan, a famous Chinese poet. He was a most trusted advisor to Chu, the ruler of one of the largest and most powerful kingdoms. He was falsely accused of disloyalty and treason and was banished from the kingdom. When the kingdom was conquered, he held a rock to his chest and threw himself into the Mi Luo River. It was the fifth day of the fifth month. When the news reached the villagers, they went out in their boats to search for him. They splashed the water with their paddles and banged their drums to keep the River Dragon away.
Dragon Boating As A Sport
The sport of dragon boat racing has its roots in Ancient China, where the first dragon boat races were held more than 2500 years ago along the banks of the Yangtze River, in the same era in which the Greeks were holding their athletic competitions in Olympia. Dragon Boat racing was not introduced to the world at large until the 1970s when the Hong Kong Tourist Board staged an international Dragon Boat Festival to promote Hong Kong culture.
Since then, Dragon boat racing has spread like wildfire around the globe, with more than 50 million people now participating in competitions held on every continent. It is often heralded as the fastest growing water sport in the US, and one of the fastest-growing corporate team-building activities in the country.
Why Is Dragon Boating Becoming So Popular?
The success of the sport has much to do with its low cost, the ease of getting started in the sport, and the uncanny ability of the sport to bond together groups who train together.
Why Dragon Boating And Breast Cancer Survivors?
In 1996, Dr. Don McKenzie of the University of British Columbia strove to dispel the myth that women who have undergone breast cancer treatment should refrain from repetitive, upper body exercise for fear of developing chronic lymphedema. What better way to do that than have breast cancer survivors participate in dragon boat racing. It is a strenuous, repetitive, upper body exercise that increases flexibility, aerobic capacity and strength. Being a team sport, it builds harmony and a feeling of togetherness. Talk about a fantastic support group that is exhilarating!