19 June 2007

Dragon Boat Festival

Once upon a time Donna Simmons commented that a great way to get to know a culture is to spend a year celebrating their holidays (I don't recall where I read this -- perhaps in one of her books, perhaps in her now-defunct yahoo group; it's entirely possible I dreamed it up as something I thought she should say although she hadn't really said it).

I commented on this to the kids, and Kid1 asked if we could celebrate Chinese holidays this year.

And so we celebrated the Dragon Boat Festival yesterday. The Dragon Boat Festival is supposed to take place on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. I decided some elasticity was okay, since the actual 2007 date didn't appear on any of our calendars and it actually took effort to find out when anyone was celebrating it; some locations celebrated in May or early June, some (more authentic, I think) celebrate on June 19, Racine WI will celebrate in July. Yesterday was convenient for our household, so we celebrated yesterday

We read about Qu Yuan, of course. The Dragon Boats and bags of sachet were interesting, and great fodder for craft projects. But what really grabbed our attention was zongzi .

We had no bamboo leaves. I supposed bamboo leave are available somewhere around here, this being a metropolitan region, but we also had no car (and hadn't had a car for several days) and I've injured my leg so that walking more than a paltry few blocks is out of the question. As a matter of fact, the only ingredient we had for zongzi was sushi rice. Okay! Let's be creative!

We cut faux bamboo-leaf strips out of cheese cloth. We placed soaked sushi rice inside, sometimes with other treats, like a piece of dried apricot or a piece of meat. We then tied them up with thread, using various colors to indicate the fillings. We tossed them all in a pot, and simmered for about a half hour.

Success! Keep in mind we've never seen or eaten zongzi, but we ended up with a glutinous mass of rice. I think true zongzi would've been more dense. Ours were finger food, but I appreciated having a plate under them. We drizzled the plain rice zongzi with honey, and declared our Dragon Boat Festival a success.


Weaver said...

thanks for the Racine celebration tip for me! I'm off to see what I can find out so we can celebrate too :)

km said...

I like the thought of celebrating international holidays. For our homeschool year, we're going to be giving the kids passports and sticker/stamps to mark each country we've visited. A lot of the countries will be where our church has missionaries. And Zongzi, I've only had them with meat (never fruit...but that's more kid friendly) they really stick together...so you can peal the leaves back and they become sort of a chinese granola bar. The bamboo really does flavor the rice. I think you were better off without the leaves (I visited China in 96 & 98).