This past weekend was a special holiday here in Taiwan, Dragon Boat Festival. The festival comes from various legends, the most famous is one about the poet Qu Yuan. It says that after a few political events, the poet was banished from the country he loved and eventually committed suicide by drowning himself in the river. The people, who loved him, were desperate to stop the fish from eating his body, so they threw Zongzi (a sticky rice dumpling) into the river to prevent this. Today it’s celebrated with Dragon Boat races, snacks, and some catch-up time with friends and family.
One place to catch the races is the Dazhi riverfront park. Competitions take place in different classes: Mens, mixed gender, etc. The teams are made by different schools, clubs, companies, and neighborhoods. Each team consists of up to 20 rowers, 1 drummer to keep time, and a final person who must grab the flag located on the finish line. There are four lanes, and during each race, the team must stay in their lane. After the race the teams paddle back down to the start line, to exit their boats. Most the teams start training hard early spring, using their free time on the weekends. Others are still working out the kinks when it comes time to the race. As you can imagine it takes a lot of practice to get 20 people in shape and working in unison. Below is some footage of a friends race.
As for the snacks, there are plenty to be had. The major one is Zongzi, made by wrapping sticky rice and ingredients in a bamboo or reed leaf, the dumplings are then steamed or boiled. They can have a variety of ingredients: red beans, green beans, taro root, nuts, pork, chicken, last year I even had one made with peanut butter.
This year we got little rice cakes as a gift from work, they were filled with similar things on the inside. My favorite was the sesame.
It’s a great holiday of traditions and activities, I’m glad I decided to experience all of it this year.