Duanwu Festival and eating Zongzi 粽子 (rice dumplings)

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By Junying Kirk – Birmingham 

Many Chinese traditional festivals are associated with food one way or another, and in the case of Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the 2oth of June this year (today), there are various legends and myths surrounding the origin of why we eat Zongzi, race dragon boats and drink realgar wine on this particular day.

Duanwu Festival is celebrated in China, in many other parts of Asia as well as overseas on the fifth day of May (hence also known as Double Fifth) according to the lunar Chinese calendar. Consequently the date varies each year according to the Western Sun calendar.

One of the most popular myths is associated with the death of Chinese poet Qu Yuan, who has written a number of much loved poetry and served the King of Kingdom Chu during the Warring States Period of the Zhou Dynasty. When his beloved kingdom was taken by the enemy Qin, the patriotic poet threw himself into the Miluo river and drowned himself. Legends had it that in order to avoid the poet being consumed by fish, the local people made rice dumplings to throw into the river. They also went to the river with their boats searching for his body and scaring the fish from eating him, hence the birth of Dragon Boat racing.

You can read more on Duanwu Festival.

If you have a local Chinese supermarket, or a good Chinese restaurant near you, treat yourself. You’ll remember the wonderful myths that come with it.

Zongzi (Chinese: 粽子) is a traditional Chinese food made of glutinous rice, stuffed with different fillings, and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. It is steamed or boiled.

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About the author 

Originally from China and currently living and working in the UK, Junying Kirk has worked as an academic, administrator, researcher, teacher, professional interpreter, translator and cultural consultant.

Read her books  “Journey To The West” Trilogy – The Same Moon, Trials of Life and Land of Hope, available on Amazon Worldwide, iBook and Smashwords.

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