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Exploring the Meaning and Food Traditions of the Dragon Boat Festival

Exploring the Meaning and Food Traditions of the Dragon Boat Festival

Have you heard of the Dragon Boat Festival before? This traditional Chinese holiday dates back to over 2,000 years ago and is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. The festival honors a beloved Chinese poet, Qu Yuan, and involves dragon boat racing, hanging festive flags, and of course, enjoying delicious food. In this post, we'll dive into the meaning behind the Dragon Boat Festival and explore some traditional dishes that are enjoyed during the holiday.


The Dragon Boat Festival is also known as Duanwu Festival, and it began as a way to honor Qu Yuan, a poet and politician who lived during the Warring States Period in China. Qu Yuan was a loyal patriot who dedicated his life to his country, but in 278 BC, he drowned himself in the Miluo River after his kingdom was conquered. The people who loved Qu Yuan didn't want his body to be eaten by animals, so they rowed their boats on the river to prevent that from happening. This tradition eventually turned into a sport, and now it's an annual event where people race on dragon boats to honor Qu Yuan's sacrifice.

Food plays a big role in the Dragon Boat Festival, and one of the most popular dishes is zongzi. Zongzi is a sticky rice dumpling that's usually stuffed with ingredients like pork, mushrooms, and salted egg yolks. It's wrapped in bamboo leaves and boiled for several hours, resulting in a savory and satisfying snack. 

Aside from zongzi, people also eat other types of food during the Dragon Boat Festival, such as xiaolongbao, which are small steamed buns filled with soup and meat. You might also see people snacking on lotus leaves, which are believed to have healing properties, or drinking tea made with Chinese herbs like chrysanthemum and honey suckle. Additionally, some areas of China have their own unique food traditions for the Dragon Boat Festival, such as eating fried rice dumplings in Guangdong and sweet rice cakes in Zhejiang.

If you're interested in cooking your own Dragon Boat Festival feast, we've got a range of ingredients to get you started or alternatively we have a selection of ready made zongzi that you can start exploring.

The Dragon Boat Festival is a rich and meaningful holiday that connects people to Chinese history and culture. Whether you're participating in the dragon boat races or simply enjoying some tasty zongzi with friends and family, the festival is a time for celebration and reflection. The food traditions of the Dragon Boat Festival are an essential part of the holiday, and they offer a delicious and fascinating glimpse into Chinese cuisine. So with the upcoming festival just around the corner, why not try making some zongzi join in on the festivities?


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