The Dragon Boat Festival (Duānwǔjié, or 端午节) falls on the fifth day of the fifth Lunar month each year. This year, the festival falls on Tuesday, May 30.
For adoptive families in the paperwork process, that means that the CCCWA will close down for a couple of days in observance of the holiday. China will have three days of holiday, beginning on Sunday, May 28, and be back to work on Wednesday, June 1.
For families in China (especially in Southern China), it means celebrating a holiday that is over 2000 years old. This festival is commonly celebrated through dragon boat races, and eating Zongzi (rice dumplings). You may have seen a dragon boat race before — rowers sit in a boat which has been carved into the shape of a dragon, and they move their paddles to the beat of a drum.
Traditionally, dragon boat races symbolized attempts to rescue an ancient Chinese poet named Chu Yuan. Chu Yuan was an advisor to the King of Chu, but when the King felt that he was betrayed by Chu Yuan, he sent him into exile. Chu Yuan was a prolific poet during his time of exile, and was revered by the people of China. When the state of Chu was invaded because the King failed to heed Chu Yuan’s advice, Chu Yuan drowned himself on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in 277 B.C.
The dragon boat race originated when the people raced to find Chu Yuan’s body. The boat’s occupants threw bamboo leaf-wrapped packets filled with glutinous rice into the sea, so that the fish would eat the food rather than the poet, and in the hopes that they might rescue Chu Yan.
Here is a recipe to make traditional Zongzi.
You can find bamboo leaves, and the wooden steamer baskets at your local Asian market.
Because I’m not much of a chef, I’ll be looking for pre-prepared rice dumplings in the frozen section of our local market. We also have two little books that explain the customs of the Dragon Boat Festival:
Celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival – this book is Dragon Boat Festival specific
Moonbeams, Dumplings and Dragon Boats – another great book that contains recipes and activities for celebrating each of the traditional Chinese holidays
Finally, if you are feeling ambitious and/or Pinterest-y, I found a free printable paper craft for you to try with your little people here.