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It’s dumpling and dragon boat season again - but without the races

23 June 2020

Most Dragon Boat Festival events this year have been cancelled (2018 photo)

By The SUN

This coming Thursday, June 25, Hong Kong will celebrate Tuen Ng Festival again.

Locals call it “duanwu” or “double fifth” because it occurs on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in the Chinese calendar.
For most other people, however, it is known as the Dragon Boat Festival because it is marked across Hong Kong with dragon boats racing against each other, with not a few being manned by rowers from overseas.

The boats, which are of different sizes and are built in the shape of massive war canoes, are manned by 20 to 80 rowers who race against each other in Victoria Harbour off Central, Tsim Sha Tsui, Stanley, Shatin and several other districts.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic this year, however, most of the dragon boat races have been cancelled, with just a small fun race being held in Stanley on the day of the festival.
 
Luckily, dumplings are as ubiquitous as before, despite the pandemic
But, worry not, because there’s still another tradition on this day that will continue as before, and that is the making of rice dumplings or zongzi. As in past years, this favorite food will again be sold at streets stalls, or given away as sticky treat to others.

The main ingredient of the dumpling is glutinous rice or sticky rice mixed with meats, beans, corns and other vegetables. The elderly used to wrap them in banana leaves, but nowadays most people prefer using bamboo or lotus leaves for extra aroma.


It is a traditional Chinese food that even migrant workers have come to be familiar with, as they are often asked by their employers to make as many as they can possibly give away to friends and family.

Tuen Ng Festival has, for thousands of years, been marked with a public holiday for all, including migrants. – with George Manalansan

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