One of the main reasons I love travelling and living abroad is getting to experience and learn about other cultures. I have heard about China’s Dragon Boat festival, but admit I thought the whole festival was about racing dragon boats. So when I was invited to attend the Dragon Boat celebrations at my local temple here in Shanghai I thought we were going to watch a dragon boat race. But I was pleasantly surprised to learn about all the other aspects of this huge celebration.
This festival has been celebrated annually in China for over 2,000 years and occurs near the summer solstice. It’s a traditional festival full of traditions and superstitions, maybe originating from dragon worship and is also a day to commemorate an ancient Chinese poet Qu Yuan, who consistently displayed love and devotion to his country through his work. However, during the Warring States period of the Zhou Dynasty, he was exiled and chose to drown himself in the Miluo river, rather than seeing his country invaded and conquered.
My favourite part of the celebration was where I got to learn how to make Zongzi the most traditional Dragon Boat Festival food. It is related to Qu Yuan commemoration, as the legend says that lumps of rice were thrown into the river to stop fish eating his drowned body. Zongzi is sticky rice dumplings mainly made of glutinous rice with various fillings, as we were at a Buddhist temple ours were vegetarian and had dates and lentils in the filling. We were shown how to wrap the Zongzi in triangles in bamboo or reed leaves, and tied them up with colorful silky cords.
Happy Dragon Boat Festival!!