Dumpling Festival or Duanwu Festival occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month of the Chinese calendar and commemorates the passing of Qu Yuan, a poet in the Warring States Period.
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The first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Dumpling Festival is the food. Shaped as a 3D triangle and filled with rice, meat, salted egg yolk and chestnut, the dumpling is a delicacy I love to death. I especially love the dumplings sold at Hoo Kee as they give an extremely authentic Hokkien taste. A caution though, my family and I often spend up to an hour queueing for the dumplings alongside other Singaporean die hard fans.
Besides the food, there are many other activities to engage in during the dumpling festival such as watching a Dragon Boating competition and attending carnivals around the neighbourhood which has stalls selling paper cuttings and other chinese products.
I for one hope the Dumpling festival does not lose its importance in Singapore.
Dubious Story or Myth?
I had learnt about this festival in Chinese class and was forced to do a presentation on it. I couldn't tell if the story was legitimate or just a myth but nonetheless found the story interesting.
I thought about the story long and hard - perhaps if I were, too, learned in that era and if people respected me enough, they would have done the same to me. Or maybe not. Even then, I always found the story a little strange - how could it be that they couldn't find his body - it wasn't possible that his body just disappeared into thin air (or deep waters). Maybe they didn't look hard enough. Regardless, it just means that the Chinese carry on this tradition based on a dubious and ridiculous story - and I have to say it is partly a good thing because my grandma makes good dumplings.
Many years ago, I would go to see the dragon boat race during dumpling festival. There was a story related to the dumpling festival. There was once a patriot in ancient China who was wrongly accused by his emperor and in his depression, he jumped into a river to commit suicide.
After that, on the day that he jumped into the river, the residents around the area would row their boats out and throw dumplings into the river. This was supposed to prevent the fishes from eating the body of this patriot.
Slowly, the boats evolved into dragon boats and dragon boats evolved into a competition. This sports was used to illustrate teamwork in a lot of team building training. Each rower on the boat needs to follow the drum beat of the leader to synchronise their rowing, any team member that was out of sync can cause the boat to move slower.
'Ba Zhang' time!
'Ba Zhang' time! 'Ba zhang' is a dialect term loosely translated as rice(meat) dumplings and that's actually the term most of us know it as. Truth be told, I know nuts about this festival, ok maybe just a small bit. All I know is that I will be eating some rice dumplings for a few meals and there's like a story about people long ago throwing cooked rice wrapped in long leaves into a river to stop a monster from eating up a good man. Then, it evolves into a tradition. Yeah something like that. And on this occasion, there will be some dragon boating events going on, mainly in China and Taiwan where Chinese are densely populated.
But, whatever the story, I'm already looking forward to sinking my teeth into some dumplings the next dumpling festival. :)
Dumpling lovers- Unite!
Come Dumpling Festival, I would always look forward to some home-made dumplings! My grandma would make delicious dumplings for the whole families to eat. One year, all my aunties and uncles got together to learn how to make dumplings at my grandma’s house. It was harder than I thought; you have to fold the leaves in a certain way so that they remain locked in that position and you boil them, there are a million and one steps involved, from preparing the rice, to boiling the dumplings.
It is also the festival where people dagonboat to commemorate a patriotic guy called QuYuan, while that story has lost its relevance already, dragonboating has not. I tried it once and it involves mainly teamwork and is challenging. To put it in simpler terms: you don’t want to be the weak link that causes the boat to go slow!
In retrospect, this is an exciting festival, if only because of its’ fattening yet awesome dumplings.
The dumpling festival is the one day of the lunar year where everyone is encouraged to indulge in this fatty delight as much as possible. Being brought up in a more Westernised rather than a traditional Chinese family, I don't have many memories of this day. However, primary school activities more than made it up for me.
From making art caricatures of smiling dumplings to actually create our little mini-delicacies to bring home, it would seem that for one day, the entire school would pause its usual curriculum to enjoy the delights of this delicious food.
Personally, I would prefer the Mooncake Festival though. But hey, free food.
My love for dumplings
The best part of the dumpling festival is of course, eating dumplings! If you're Singaporean, and assuming you have gone through primary and secondary school education, you would have gone through at least 10 times of assembly talks about the dumpling festival. It will be a shame if you do not know the origins of the dumpling festival and most importantly, the making of the dumpling.
I don't exactly remember my first time making a dumpling, but I clearly remembered participating in a dumpling-making competition in school! Classes had to compete against one another, and the class that produces the most number of nicely wrapped dumplings in the time given will be the winner! That was when I really remembered the steps of making a dumpling!
Even when it is not the dumpling festival, I usually love to eat dumplings especially the nonya ones for any of my meals. Although after eating 1 dumpling may be quite filling, it actually makes me hungry for more!