Every year on the fifth day of the fifth month of the traditional Chinese calendar (Monday the 18th of June 2018) one of the most culturally significant holidays is celebrated across East Asia – Dragon Boat Festival!
Now this is something that might come as a bit of a shock to you… The festival is not in fact about dragon’s! The roots of the Dragon Boat Festival are traced back to the suicide of the scholar and poet Qu Yuan.
Qu was a minister serving the King of state of Chu. Slandered by corrupt officials who competed for royal favour, Qu eventually left the capital and lived a life of exile back in his hometown, where he wrote what’s considered some of the greatest poetry in the Chinese language.
After he got word that the Chu capital had fallen to the Qin army, he waded into a river and drowned himself in despair at his country’s downfall. Locals paddled down the river to try to save him, to no avail. Later, they threw rice dumplings into the river as an offering to his spirit, and so that the fish wouldn’t feed on his remains. They also continued racing along the water with beating drums to ward off evil spirits, giving rise to the holiday’s two best-known traditions. Dragon Boats and Zongzi (rice dumplings)!
Dragon Boat racing has become not just a tradition, but a competitive sport around the world. The idea originated from the legend of the people who rowed their boats to save Qu Yuan after he drowned himself. The boats are built to resemble the face of a Chinese dragon, with a team of rowers moving their oars in sync to a beating drum.
But our favourite part of this yearly tradition is most definitely Zongzi! Zongzi are a pyramid shaped sticky rice dumpling, wrapped in reed leaves, which have a variety of fillings which can differ from region to region. For example, in North China, people often use jujubes (Chinese dates) as the filling, while the south sweetened bean paste, fresh meat, or egg yolk. Nowadays, Zongzi are a common food, which can be easily found in supermarkets. However, some families still retain the tradition to make Zongzi on the festival day.
So, whether your family celebrates Dragon Boat Festival, or you would just like to experience a taste of rich Chinese culture and history dating back centuries, we have your rice dumplings needs sorted here at Tang!
You can shop our range of pre-packaged and fresh dumplings in-store from now until the Festival.