The Dragon Boat Festival - 端午节(duān wǔ jié)

The Dragon Boat Festival, also called the Duanwu Festival, is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month according to the Chinese calendar. For thousands of years, the festival has been marked by eating Zong zi (glutinous rice(糯米) wrapped to form a pyramid using bamboo or reed leaves) and racing dragon boats.

The festival is best known for its dragon-boat races. This regatta commemorates the death of Qu Yuan , an honest minister who is said to have committed suicide by drowning himself in a river. Qu was a minister of the State of Chu situated in present-day Hunan and Hubei provinces, during the Warring States Period(475-221BC). He was upright, loyal and highly esteemed for his wise counsel that brought peace and prosperity to the state. However, when a dishonest and corrupt prince vilified Qu, he was disgraced and dismissed from office. Realizing that the country was now in the hands of evil and corrupt officials, Qu grabbed a large stone and leapt into the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth month. Nearby fishermen rushed over to try and save him but were unable to even recover his body. Thereafter, the state declined and was eventually conquered by the State of Qin.

The people of Chu who mourned the death of Qu threw rice into the river to feed his ghost every year on the fifth day of the fifth month. But one year, the spirit of Qu appeared and told the mourners that a fishes in the river had stolen the rice. The spirit then advised them to wrap the rice in silk and bind it with five different-colored threads before tossing it into the river. That’s the origin of Zong zi(粽子) rice-dumpling.

Vocabulary List:

  • 鲜肉粽(xiānròuzònɡ)- fresh meat rice dumplings
  • 蛋黄粽(dànhuánɡzònɡ)-rice dumplings with yolk
  • 豆沙粽(dòushāzònɡ)-rice dumplings with red beans
  • 红枣粽(hónɡzǎozònɡ)-rice dumplings with red dates
  • 板栗粽(bǎnlìzònɡ)-rice dumplings with chestnuts