端午节 / Dragon Boat Festival 2012 falls on Saturday, 23 June 2012. The date of 端午节 / Dragon Boat Festival is determined based on lunar calendar, and falls on 5th day of the 5th month in the Chinese lunar calendar. Thus in Gregorian (Western) calendar the date will change from year to year.
Zong Zi: Chinese Dumpling
Zong zi (粽子) or simply zong is a traditional Chinese food popularly consumed during the Dragon Boat Festival, hence the name Chinese Dumpling Festival. Zong zi is made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. They are cooked by steaming or boiling. You can find all sorts of different fillings in the rice: pork, roast pork, chestnut, egg, salted egg, mushroom, red bean, or just simply without filling. They could be just white rice dumpling (not pre-fried), or brown (pre-fried with soya sauce).
Nowadays, you can buy Zongzi almost everyday of the year, in restaurants or hawker stores in most oriental countries such as China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore, and other Asian countries where large amount of Chinese reside.
They are known in Japanese as chimaki. Laotians, Thais, and Cambodians (known as Nom Asom) also have similar traditional dishes influenced by zongzi. In the Western world, they are also known as rice dumplings or Chinese tamales. In Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore it’s often known as bakcang or bacang, derived from Hokkien translation of rouzong (肉粽 – means meat dumpling). Hokkien is a Chinese dialect common to be used among Chinese descendants in the South East Asia regions. Among the Filipino-Chinese people in the Philippines, zongzi is more popularly known as machang in the Lan-nang dialect.
Chinese Dumpling Festival is sometimes called as solar maximus festival which happens every summer solstice or the northern hemisphere’s longest day of the year.
Every year my mother would make some (above picture) customized with minced meat or bak chor to my liking. This morning at our weekly fellowship meeting, Dr Mike bought for each of us a zongzi. Since today is the actual day, the price of a zongzi is most expensive. It can range from $3 to $5 depending on the ingredients and types of zongzi. Thank you Dr Mike.
Dragon Boat Festival is a festival celebrated by Chinese as well as many others of Chinese origins, including those living in Singapore, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan or Vietnam. Based on Chinese lunar calendar, Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month, thus called as Duan Wu Jie (端午节) or Double Fifth Festival.
Origins of Dragon Boat Festival / 端午节
Dragon Boat Festival is said to commemorate the sacrifice of Qu Yuan, a legendary Chinese poet. In Mi Lo River around 2000 years ago, he drowned himself to protest against the rulers and to stop corruption. As respect to the poet, people throw dumplings into the river to stop fish from feeding on the poet’s body as well as make noise to scare the fish away.
Dragon Boat Festival / 端午节 Around The World
Different nations observed Chinese Dumpling Festival in different ways. Here are some examples of countries and their ways of celebrating.
Dragon Boat Festival 2012 / 端午节 in Taiwan
People living in Taiwan held boat races all over the country competing with foreign groups who joined in. Like any other festival, Taiwan also prepared some dishes like zongi or the dumplings and Tzung Tzu that is eaten to show respect to deceased and for nutritional value as well.
端午节 / Dragon Boat Festival 2012 in Hong Kong
Hong Kong celebrated Chinese Dumpling Festival by fierce dragon boat (longzhou – 龙舟) racing. Also, they are preparing dumplings made from mixture of meat and rice which is wrapped on bamboo leaves. This day is also the best day for them to collect herbal medicine.
端午节 / Dragon Boat Festival 2012 in China
Chinese Dumpling Festival is celebrated in China by dragon boat that contains drums. These drums are used for making loud noise and the main purpose is to scare the fish under the water for them not to touch Qu Yuan. The people threw cooked rice dumplings into the river to feed the fishes hoping that they would not eat his body. This was to show that they appreciated Qu Yuan’s sacrifices.
Duan Wu 2012 / Dragon Boat Festival in Malaysia
Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated in Malaysia which is held on June and July. Boat races were held where competitors from villages, clans, and organization can join and have the potential to win medals, jugs of wine, banners and festive meals. Also people are preparing rice to offer fish under water and for them not to touch Qu Yuan. They are preparing sweet dumplings made of rice, honey, dates’ paste and bean paste. Some are using fresh meat, salted meat or ham mixed with rice.
Duan Wu 2012 / Dragon Boat Festival in Singapore
To celebrate Duan Wu 2012 Festival, Singaporean organized dragon boat races, symbolizing searching for Qu Yuan’s body on the river. In the past, dumplings are said to be thrown on the river to drive away the fishes from the legendary poet’s body. Nowadays, Singaporeans prepare the rice dumplings as a delicacy, which made this festival is also known as the Chinese Dumpling Festival of Singapore.
I wish everyone “Happy Dumpling Festival – 端午节 快乐！”