Monday, 2 June 2014

Happy Dumpling Festival – 端午节 快乐

This year’s Dumpling Festival or 端午节 falls on 2nd June 2014(Mon). It is always on the 5th day of the 5th Lunar month. 2 yrs ago, I blogged about this festival when some of my German frens came over for a visit. They were curious about this festival. Click on the link to read. I then decided to do a write up on this traditional Chinese festival celebrated throughout the Chinese world. It is observed not only in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore but in most Chinese communities around the world. It is also celebrated as a sporting event in the form of The Dragon Boat Festival.

This Dumpling Festival or 端午节 快乐 brings back many nostalgic memories for me. I remember as a teenager living in the kampung, myself and my brother were tasked to hunt for discarded furniture for pieces of wood as fuel to boil those dumplings my mother painstakingly wrapped on pieces of leaf. We would just place few pieces of bricks outside our zinc home compound to boil those dumplings in a big aluminum tin.

Whilst my mother was busy wrapping those dumplings, we would take turns to attend to the fire with topping up of pieces of wood and stir those dumplings inside the big container tin. My non-Chinese neighbors such as Ah Yaw (Indian), Meka (Sikh) and others would also rally around us to help out in the cooking knowing full well that they would be rewarded with some dumplings at the end of the day. There was no Cultural Appreciation Day then. It was unnecessary. Those memories still etched vividly on my mind whenever 端午节 (Duan Wu Jie) is around the corner.

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Duan Wu Jie (Rice Dumpling Festival) and Qu Yuan

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.

the 5th day of the 5th month in the Chinese calendar has been set as Duan Wu Festival to remember the incident. Although there were versions of legends and stories that indicate Duan Wu has existed way before Qu Yuan's death, the tradition still carries on.

The rice dumplings (ZongZi) are glutinous rice (or sticky rice in some countries like Thailand and Hong Kong) wrapped in bamboo leaves, or other large leaves (lotus is one of the more commonly used leaves). 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).

related: Cantonese White Glutinous Rice Dumpling (ZongZi)

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Duan Wu Jie 2014

Dragon Boat / 端午节 / Chinese Dumpling Festival - 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.

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.

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. 端午节 / Dragon Boat Festival 2014 will fall on Monday, 2 June 2014.

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.

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.

Duan Wu 2014 / Dragon Boat Festival in Singapore - To celebrate Duan Wu 2014 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.

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Duanwu Festival

The Dragon Boat or Duanwu Festival is a traditional and statutory holiday originating in China.

The festival now occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month of the traditional Chinese calendar, the source of its alternative name, theDouble Fifth Festival. The Chinese calendar is lunisolar, so the date varies from year to year on the Gregorian calendar. In 2012, it fell on June 23; in 2013, on June 12; and in 2014, it occurs on June 2. The focus of most celebrations involves eating zongzi (sticky rice treats wrapped in bamboo leaves), drinking realgar wine (雄黃酒, xiónghuángjiǔ), and racing dragon boats.

The sun is considered to be at its strongest around the time of summer solstice, as the daylight in the northern hemisphere is the longest. The sun, like the Chinese dragon, traditionally represents masculine energy, whereas the moon, like the phoenix, traditionally represents feminine energy. The summer solstice is considered the annual peak of male energy while the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, represents the annual peak of feminine energy. The masculine image of the dragon was thus naturally associated with Duanwu.

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The Dumpling Festival

The Dumpling Festival ("Duan Wu Jie") is a colorful festival celebrated by Chinese worldwide on the 5th day of the 5th month of lunar calendar. It is a yearly event and during this day, the Chinese will commonly feast on dumplings (which we called "zong zi" in Chinese).

Keeping this occasion in mind, every year during the 5th day of the 5th month, the Chinese worldwide celebrated the Dumpling Festival. In the modern world today, "zong zi" are no longer thrown into rivers, but people still eat them as a holiday tradition and testament to Qu Yuan's self-determination.

During this day, it is also a tradition to organize the yearly dragon boat races and to eat dumplings. The dragon boat races are known to represent the search for the poet's body and is a popular event in countries like China, Taiwan, Singapore and so on. It is also a common practice to exchange dumplings (either self-made or bought) amongst close friends and relatives.

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Rice Dumpling Festival

Rice Dumpling Festival or Dragon Boat Festival falls on the 5th day of the 5th month on the lunar calendar. It happen to be on the 28th May 2009 this year. The festive is celebrate amongst the Chinese.

Basically, all you do is to make or buy some rice dumplings, exchange rice dumplings with your relatives and friends and watch the dragon boat race if there is one near your place.

Some families get everyone to make rice dumplings together and some uses rice dumplings as offerings to their ancestors. There is no strict rules on what you must do as this is not a religious festival.

Some commented that it was not advisable for children or people with poor indigestion to eat rice dumplings as rice dumplings were made from glutinous rice.

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Dragon Boat Festival 端午节(duanwu jie)
Today, Chinesehour tells you the story of Dragon Boat Festival 端午节(danwu jie), an important traditional festival in China, with the highlights on Dragon Boat Race (赛龙舟 sai long zhou) and the special food called粽子 zongzi.

The Dragon Boat Festival, the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, has had a history of more than 2,000 years. It is usually in June in the Gregorian calendar.

There are many legends about the evolution of the festival, the most popular of which is in commemoration of Qu Yuan (340-278 BC). Qu Yuan was minister of the State of Chu and one of China’s earliest poets. In face of great pressure from the powerful Qin State, he advocated enriching the country and strengthening its military forces so as to fight against the Qin.

However, he was opposed by aristocrats headed by Zi Lan, and later deposed and exiled by King Huai. In his exiled days, he still cared much for his country and people and composed immortal poems including Li Sao (The Lament), Tian Wen (Heavenly Questions) and Jiu Ge (Nine Songs), which had far-reaching influences. In 278 BC, he heard the news that Qin troops had finally conquered Chu’s capital, so he finished his last piece Huai Sha (Embracing Sand) and plunged himself into the Miluo River, clasping his arms to a large stone. The day happened to be the 5th of the 5th month in the Chinese lunar calendar.

Dragon Boat Festival - Duanwu Jie

The Dragon Boat Festival, or Duanwu Jie, is a traditional Chinese festival and Taoist holiday that falls on fifth day of the fifth lunar month – and hence is also known as Double Fifth Day.

Origins Of The Dragon Boat Festival - The Dragon Boat Festival originated in the Zhou Dynasty, in honor of a man named Qu Yuan, who was a poet and statesman, and a minister to the Zhou Emperor. Qu Yuan was a wise and kind and honest man, who did much to eliminate the corruption rampant in the Zhou court.

This was a time in Chinese history when, though the Zhou Dynasty was the ruling power, a number of feudal states were vying for power, and internecine warfare was rampant. Qu Yuan advised the Zhou Emperor to avoid going to war with the Qin – one of these feudal states. This advice was not popular with the other members of the court, and Qu Yuan ended up being exiled.

When the Zhou were defeated by the Qin, Qu Yuan, in despair, threw himself into the Milou River, one the fifth day of the fifth month in 278 BC. His last poem was:

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