Happy Dragon Boat Festival aka Duan Wu Jie! Perhaps the best part of this holiday is the fact that most companies are closed Thursday and Friday so we all have a three day weekend (although they will re-open on Sunday). China has quite a few national holidays and it takes quite a while to learn the history and legends behind each one. However, if you’re looking for a brief description of what to eat and do on this particular holiday, keep reading.
Dragon Boat Festival takes place annually on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar new year. If you are able to, you’ll want to find a city that is hosting some boat races. Hong Kong has the most professional races and was the first city to start international dragon boat racing which has now spread around the world. But don’t despair if you don’t live near the water, perhaps you can just pretend you do.
While you’re watching the races either in person or on TV, grab a variety of zongzi (mini pyramid-shaped sticky rice blocks) to sample. These hearty chunks of sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves comes in countless different flavors and fillings such as pork, bean paste, dried dates, red beans, egg or chicken. We suggest you check to see what’s inside before you buy too many. If you get a plain zongzi, it’s common to add some honey or sugar.
It’s a requirement in China to eat the appropriate food for each holiday on each holiday (and don’t you dare eat these foods any other day during the year). Mid-Autumn festival has mooncakes, Spring Festival has tangyuan, and Dragon Boat Festival has zongzi. As we know in the West with Thanksgiving, having special food on certain days of the year make a holiday more memorable so if you haven’t ever eaten zongzi or watched a dragon boat race before, make this year’s festival a memorable one!