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Chinese Dragon Boat Festival

For all the Chinese people, the traditional Dragon Boat Festival (duān wǔ jié 端午节) is coming on May 28th this year. The Dragon Boat Festival has been one of the most important traditional festivals in China. During the festival, people celebrated it in various ways, even in modern China. After this traditional festival’s added to the schedule of national holidays by the government in 2008, people have much more time to celebrate it with their families, friends, and experience the cultural meaning of this festival.

 Why Dragon Boat Festival?

The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as the Double Fifth day, falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, usually comes at the beginning of summer. During the festival, there would be a long, canoe style boat with decorative Chinese dragon head and tail used in the dragon boat racing. Dragon boat races are traditionally held as part of the annual Duanwu observance in China. Dragon boat festival racing, like Duanwu, is observed and celebrated in many areas of east Asia with significant populations of ethnic Chinese living there. Since the dragon boat racing is the most popular and well-know celebrating program held during the festival, it got the name of the dragon boat festival.

 0rigin of the Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival is believed to have originated in ancient China. There are different versions of the origin of the dragon boat festival. Today the most widely known legend relates to the poignant saga of a Chinese court official named Qu Yuan (qū yuán 屈原).
It is said that Qu lived in the pre-imperial Warring State period (475-221 BC). Qu Yuan is popularly regarded as a minister in one of the Warring State governments, the southern state of Chu (present day Hunan and Hubei provinces), a champion of political loyalty and integrity, and eager to maintain the Chu state's autonomy and hegemony. Formerly, it was believed that the Chu king fell under the influence of other corrupt, jealous ministers who slandered Qu Yuan as 'a sting in flesh', and therefore the fooled king banished Qu.
Being worried about his beloved country and hopeless for the corrupted government, Qu committed suicide by drowning himself into the river on the fifth day of the fifth month.

The common people, upon learning the news of his suicidal, hurried to the river in hope of saving this loyal person, but found nothing. They beat drums and splashed water with their paddles in order to keep the fish from his body. Some people just scattered a kind of rice into the river so that the fish would not eat Qu’s body, it’s believed as the origin of The Dragon Boat Festival is believed to have originated in ancient China.

Food for the Dragon Boat Festival:

Zongzi (zòng zi 粽子) , also known as rice dumpling, is a traditional Chinese food eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival. Zongzi is made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. They are cooked by steaming or boiling. The shape of Zongzi ranges from relatively tetrahedral to cylindrical.
Chinese families used to make Zongzi themselves, and also gave friends as a gift. Many families would prepare the materials needed for making Zongzi a few weeks before the festival. Reed leaves are the wrapping of Zongzi, they are freshly green with special plant smell. Inside the wrapping are the glutinous rice (also called the sticky rice or sweet rice) with fillings like jujube, red-cooked pork, salted duck eggs and so on. Zongzi needed to be steamed or boiled for several hours depending on the rice and fillings. Once cooked, Zongzi can be frozen for later consumption. Nowadays, the frozen Zongzi are available for sale in many Chinese supermarkets at any time as you want.