Get your boats ready to race and grab 21 of your closest friends! China’s dragon boat festival has arrived. You may have a three day weekend but don’t make the mistake of staying at home relaxing during this public holiday. Why? You’ll regret missing out on stuffing your face with the many different types of zongzi (mini pyramid shaped sticky rice) and taking part in the festivities. Ideally, you’ll want to travel to one of China’s main cities that are near water. Hong Kong has the most professional races and was the first to start international dragon boat races which have now spread around the world. While you’re watching the races, grab a wide variety of zongzi to sample. This sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves may have several different fillings including pork, bean paste, dried dates, red beans, egg or chicken so check to see what’s inside before you buy. If you get a plain zongzi, it’s common to add some honey or sugar.
Dragon Boat Festival occurs annually on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar year which means it’s a different date each year. It is actually considered an unlucky day, as several famous Chinese people died on this day in the past. However, there are certain things you can do to increase your luck and stay healthy.
First, you’ll want to grab an egg and get it to stand up by itself at noon on Monday. If you are amazing enough to do this, you will for sure have a lucky year (for unknown reasons). Second, scatter weeds around your house, particularly calamus (sweet flag) and artemisia (mugwort). As the months become warmer, there are more bugs and mosquitoes coming out of their hiding places. In order to keep them out of your house and from spreading infectious diseases, put some of these strong smelling plants near all doors and windows. Three, hang incense around your neck (not the sticks that you burn!). An incense bag filled with fragrant powders of mugwort or other natural herbs is said to scare away evil spirits. Just make sure to pick out one that smells good or else it will scare your friends away as well. Lastly, get drunk. Yes, it is a Chinese tradition to drink during this holiday, specifically a strong yellow wine mixed with arsenic sulfide. Sounds like the perfect refreshing summer drink, right!
Happy Dragon Boat Festival!