Zongzi Expo Under Way in Macao

As this year’s Dragon Boat Festival, on June 15, draws near, an expo of glutinous rice dumpling -- known as zongzi -- is being held at the Central Square in Macao. The various glutinous rice dumplings from all over the world on exhibition are bringing savor as well as a festival atmosphere to the city.

The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival, also known as the Double Fifth Festival, occurs on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. Two most interesting and important activities are the Dragon Boat races and the making and eating of zongzi.

The Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the life and death of the ancient patriot-poet Qu Yuan of the State of Chu during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC). Qu Yuan was a minister who advocated reforms in his home state of Chu. After being discredited and disgraced by bitter political rivals, he was banished for criticizing the government and the emperor. In exile, Qu Yuan wrote poems expressing his concern for his country and people. His poems won him fame as one of the greatest Chinese poets.

At the expo, zongzi in different shapes of diamond, rectangle, a sliding weight of a steelyard, a column or a pillow, appear as if they are competing with one another for glamour. Wrapped in leaves of bamboo, lotus, reed or bajiao banana, sweet fillings include jequirity bean, mung bean and Chinese date, while savory fillings involve ham, egg yolk, chicken, duck, pork, beef and mutton.

zongzi from Japan, Thailand, Burma and other countries and regions also have attracted many visitors. It’s acknowledged that the Chinese have spread the traditional Chinese techniques for making zongzi to many countries. Now zongzi are found in Japan, the DPRK, Vietnam, Burma, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, and even residents in Mexico, Peru, Costa Rica and Honduras keep the custom of making and eating them.

Most of the zongzi on exhibition are not real food but models, because real zongzi spoil easily; however, the nice pictures can feed visitors’ appetites instead.

The sponsors of the expo also collected many photos, poems, lyrics and calligraphy from Hunan Province, Qu Yuan’s hometown, and other places in China and hosted the Haojiang Poetic Meeting to celebrate this year’s festival.

(china.org.cn by Chen Chao, June 13, 2002)

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