What to eat on Dragon Boat Festival

On every fifth day of the fifth month in Chinese lunar calendar, the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated in various ways, and the festival foods are always an indispensable part. Apart from Zongzi, what else do Chinese people eat during the Dragon Boat Festival?


Zongzi is a kind of sticky rice dumplings with different fillings wrapped by bamboo or reed leaves. The custom of eating Zongzi is originated from 340 AD, when the patriotic poet, Qu Yuan gave his life for his country by drowning himself in a river. To protect his body from being eaten by fish, people threw Zongzi into the river to feed the water creatures. Since then, Zongzi becomes a typical food for Dragon Boat Festival, which has been passed by for thousands of years.


Cold Eel Slices

Eel is another delicacy that people enjoy much during the festival. Especially the eel in the rice field, is most tender and nutritive at that time. For people in southern China, eel is as important as Zongzi on Dragon Boat Festival. Eel is usually stewed with toufu and mushrooms, and the soup tastes tender and sweet. Braising with garlic is also another popular way to cook eel.


Dagao is a kind of cake made of mugwort and boiled sticky rice. Thump the boiled rice repeatedly for a long time and make it become paste. Dip it in sugar or honey, it becomes the most popular local food, which is glutinous and chewy. Now, in Yanbian area of Jilin Province in northeast China, people get used to have Dagao during the Dragon Boat Festival.


Jiandu is a kind of fried glutinous ball made of wheat or sticky rice flour, with sesame on the surface. According to the folklore, the raining season before the Dragon Boat Festival was caused by the holes in the Heaven, and Jiandui can fill up these holes. Therefore, people eat the glutinous balls to stop the rain. In Fujian Province in southeast China, the celebration of eating Jiandui is widely kept.

Realgar Wine

Drinking realgar wine during the Dragon Boat Festival is a tradition kept for generations, and kids’ cheek and forehead will also be rubbed with the wine. It is believed that the wine can dispel sickness, poisonous stuff and evil spirits. Now the realgar wine is not much liked by people, as there is tinny toxicant in it after being heated.

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