Dragon Boat Festival

I always find that is very funny how some mandarin terms are very awkwardly translated into English and bring total different impression of the true meaning behind, especially comes to terms related to Chinese cultural like the festivals we celebrate or the food we take.

As for instant, Dragon Boat Festival (falls on 8th of June this year) is probably one of the festival most non-Chinese would have no idea what is it about. You see, as modern-city lifestyle takes over the traditional lifestyle, I believe most of us in Malaysia never really experience Dragon-Boat Race or may be don’t even realise that there is actually such festival celebrated by Chinese. But don’t get it wrong, it isn’t because we Chinese already stop celebrating the so called Dragon Boat Festival, but just that the Dragon-Boat isn’t the main part of the celebration at all. In fact, if you do visit Pasar this few days, u probably would notice that there’re a lot of Chinese vendors are selling some funny looking dumplings which are wrapped in reed leaves into pyramid shape, which we named it Zong Zhi (粽子) or pronounced as Charng in Hokkien and it is delicately translated to Rice Dumpling in English.

So this is the rice dumpling i meant if you have no idea what I was mentioning about. And ya, it looks like noting the same with the dumpling you have in your WanTan Min.

So here goes, unwrapping it and Taa Daa!! Like what you can see, Rice Dumpling is actually a steamed glutinous rice ball filled with assorted filling which is uncertain as it is a home-cooked delicacy whereby different family might have it differently. But for us Malaysian Chinese, the filling we have are more likely pork, red beans, shitake mushroom, chestnut and salted duck’s egg-york (man! that’s a very long name for a single ingredient). But of course, Chinese always tend to like prosperous and expensive food, so there are actually rice dumpling filled with abalone and shark fins which is insanely expensive and awfully wasteful.

Ok, since it is all about the rice dumpling, why don’t Chinese named the festival as Rice Dumpling Festival instead?  Well for that, I think that’s probably because Chinese who suggested the translated name of this festival might have thought of we already have a Mooncake Festival and is not a good idea to name another festival under the festive food again. (Imagine Christmas is known as Candy Cane Day and Hari Raya is known as Ketupat & Rendang Day).

Back to the dragon boat!

Traditionally, we do have dragon boat race during this festival. Ya, this is one of a kind of a dragon boat most probably would imagine. But for the disappointment, no this is not the dragon boat we have during dragon boat festival.

Instead, this is the Dragon Boat we are having. It isn’t fancy at all and it is a lot more simple as dragon boat is actually build for speed (woo… sounded ganas gila). And ya, dragon boat race is about paddle-ling but not motors or engines. Oh well, it is a traditional game after all. Up until today, the only place in Malaysia that I know that there’s still dragon boat race going on is Penang, and believe it or not, the competition is actually in a bigger scale than you can imagine, as there are international teams namely from China, Thailand and even Australia (now why does the Australian are celebrating as well?)

So after all the introduction, now you know how we celebrate the dragon boat festival! And as a remark of the origin of this festival, is this actually a day to commemorate the great poet QuYuan of Chu Emperor who committed a patriotic suicide into river on the 5th day of 5th month in the Chinese lunar calendar, when the news spread the people of Chu Emperor paddle out the river and rice dumplings are thrown into the river hoping that the fishes in the river wont feast on QuYuan’s dead body but eat the dumpling instead. So that’s how dragon boat and rice dumplings come into the festival.

Many may wonder why am I writing this long and boring entry (hell ya, is it English some more) to introduce this festival which is so not me. This is because this festival meant a lot to me as the Dragon Boat Festival is on one day right before my lunar birthday which is on the 4th day of 5th month in lunar calendar. My mum always claims that I am borned a gluttony boy (eww… this sure sounds wrong in English! but i cant find any decent word else in my poor English to translate 贪吃 or should i say desire in having food), as i coudlnt wait to eat the rice dumpling so much that I decided to pop out the day right before the Dragon Boat Festival!!

So that’s pretty much wrap up for this entry! and ya… I do like rice dumpling! Happy Belated Dragon Boat Festival!


~ by xinzhan on June 9, 2008.

4 Responses to “Dragon Boat Festival”

  1. Happy Belated ‘Zhong jit’
    you call that poor english? its really decent.. no worries!

    serious i didn’t know dragon boat competition still exist here in msia.. have seen it many years ago on tv..

  2. We still have dragon boat race in penang! and believe it or not, one of us in Redang trip was actively involve in dragon boat race earlier during high school day! take a guess 😀

  3. hmm.. it must be someone from penang.. is it sakak?

  4. great blog

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