The fifth day of the fifth lunar month! That’s when Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated. For those who’re racking their brains trying to decipher the date, it’s June 3 this year. And with the weather being all nice and Dragon Boat festivities returning to Vancouver, we are in full form to celebrate this traditional Chinese festival in the chillest of ways… because good weather, good mood. Plus, it would make a great finale to Asian Heritage Month.
ICYMI, May is celebrated as Asian Heritage Month in Canada and it honours the many contributions Canadians with Asian heritage have made to making Canada great. Now, back to the festival!
Contrary to popular belief, there’s actually a lot more to the festival than just epic boat races, though they are a significant part of the tradition. So, we put together this list of four absolute must do’s that will make this Dragon Boat Festival incredible.
Devour a flavour or (10) of zongzi, aka, rice dumpling
We love all traditions that involve food, especially when the food comes in a gazillion flavours, as zongzi does. Zongzi is a glutenous, sticky rice dumpling made with a variety of stuffing- from sweet red bean paste to egg yolk and seafood. No, you don’t have to go hunting for these little delights because we are lucky to have Canada’s largest Asian supermarket chain in town, T&T which has some 20+ flavours.
Every year, T&T serves up a whole range of zongzi that is hand-wrapped by experienced makers in their Central Kitchen, which btw is also Canada’s largest manufacturer of zongzi. And every year, they surprise fans with new flavours, even though these flavours can take a good nine months to develop. This year’s new flavours include Peach Rice Dumpling with Agar Jelly Pearls, Cocoa Flavour Rice Dumpling with Pearls, and Buddha Temptations Rice Dumpling. The last one is literally the size of a face with deluxe ingredients like whole abalone, sea cucumber, Japanese scallops, Japanese mushrooms, etc. No wonder they end up with selling 460K of these delicious dumplings.
Attend the Dragon Boat Race
Of course, this is on the list! It might not be the only thing we do but it certainly is exciting to see enthusiasts battling it out on the water. Fortunately, Vancouver has one of the best dragon boat races in North America, thanks to Dragon Boat BC. And the 3-day event is back in Chinatown this year (dates, yet to be announced).
Gather with family
What use is a festival if you can’t enjoy it with your crazy family, eh? So, round up the gang, order in (or cook) a lavish Chinese meal and make it a big party. You might even want to make a whole weekend out of it. Either chilling on the couch binge-watching silly content or following one or more things we’ve listed here.
Gift, gift, gift
As is the case with most traditional Chinese festivals, this one is pretty heavy on gifting too. Which works out just fine since you’re rounding up the fam anyway. And no, your gifts don’t have to be OTT. In fact, one of the most common gifts happens to be zongzi. The dumpling, is afterall, the gingerbread of Dragon Boat Festival. Incidentally, T&T also has zongzi gift boxes that you can grab pre-packed. All 20+ flavours! Plus, if you’re buying 4 or more zongzi— in store or online— you can avail a 5% discount.
Hope this list helps. We’ll also leave you with a link to the T&T online store. You can check out their zongzi offerings and even order a pack or four. In case you were wondering, they deliver anywhere and everywhere in Canada.