May 5th on the lunar calendar is 端午节 （Duānwǔ jié). One of the most popular traditions during this holiday is to wrap-up some delicious glutinous rice inside a few bamboo leaves called 粽子（Zòngzi). Although I love my sweets, I prefer the salty 粽子 over the sweet ones filled with red bean or sweet beans from Northern China. The salty ones from the South are often filled with salted duck egg, pork belly, Chinese sausage, pork fat, and shiitake mushrooms. My favorite is a combination of sausage, fat and mushrooms. My mouth is savoring as I write this.
The other popular tradition is watching the dragon boat races. The races basically consist of incredibly ornate and heavy boats with a huge dragon head at the front. The boat is also weighed down by the large number of oarsmen and oarswomen who paddle like mad to move this monstrosity. There's a lot of yelling and grunting and all the glory and honor of the day goes to the boat that crosses the finish line first. It's quite different from the traditional crew races that you see out on the water.
The custom was developed over 2000 years ago originally to commemorate Qu Yuan, a famous Chinese patriot. To learn more about the story of Qu Yuan, watch our Chinese Festivals animated series which includes "The Story of Dragon Boat Festival."
Happy Zongzi eating and Dragon Boat Race watching.