Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dumpling Day or Duanwu Festival

On Saturday (yesterday), the Chinese community celebrated Duanwu Festival or commonly known here as Dumpling Day.

The festival occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month of the Chinese lunar calendar thus this festival is also referred to as Double Fifth festival. On the Gregorian calendar, the date varies from year to year. Last year, the festival was celebrated on June 6 while this year, on June 23.

The Duanwu Festival originated in China and has recently been gazetted a public holiday in China though not here in Malaysia. Rice dumplings are the main food of this festival. Racing dragon boats which derived from the legend/origin of zòngzi (dumplings in Mandarin) is also associated with this festival. You can read the origin of the Duanwu Festival here.

In Malaysia, this festival is still in practice and is one of the major Chinese festivals still observed as a custom in traditional Chinese homes. In Buddhist/Taoist homes, celebrating a major festival like this Duanwu Festival involves making special offerings to deities and ancestors of a variety of food, lighting special jossticks and candles as well as burning of joss-paper, the latter to ancestors. The family gathers for a grander-than-usual meal, mainly dinner.

Image source: Wikipedia

Related posts:
Happy Duanwu Festival or Dumpling Day! - June 12, 2013
Dumpling Day - A Chinese festival - June 6, 2011


  1. i have not tasted any dumplings in KL but then my friend gave me two when i was in HK, haha.. and was lucky to see the dragon boat competition while i was in Macao..

  2. SK, that is so cool! I've yet to experience watching a dragonboat race. Here in Malaysia, the only place we can watch a dragonboat race is in Penang.

    Incidentally, this year's Plenitude Penang International Dragon Boat Festival 2012, will be held this weekend, June 30 & July 1 from 9.00am – 6.00pm. Venue is at Teluk Bahang Dam, Penang. An event not to be missed for tourists visiting Penang.

    So good of your friend to offer you the dumplings. Do dumplings in Hongkong taste better than the ones in Kuala Lumpur, in your opinion?

  3. Now I'm determined to find a Chinese restaurant where I can have rice dumplings.

    It can also have an adzuki bean filling? That's so similar to Japanese mochi, but I think mochi is pounded, whereas zongzi isn't?

    There are regular dragon boat races in Yokohama, but I've never seen it. :(

  4. Rurousha, yes, please do though not sure whether Chinese restaurants in Japan serve this specialty other than during this Duanwu Festival.

    However, here in Malaysia, these rice dumplings are sold all year round even at roadside foodstalls. In bigger Chinese and/or dimsum restaurants a close alternative would be the lotus leaf rice dumplings. The rice in this dumpling is also packaged up (with lotus leaf) and steamed while the zongzi (wrapped with bamboo leaves) are boiled (for hours).

    The dumplings in the image are the savoury type, the basic filling being a salted egg yolk, a piece or two of pork (usually a half-fatty piece for the oil which gives it the smooth taste), a choice of beans (either mung beans, red beans, etc), black mushroom, and a chestnut. These ingredients are first marinated with a number of condiments including light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, cornstarch, salt and pepper, sugar, five spice powder, sesame oil, and then stirfried to cook them until they are fragrant before they go into the glutinous rice package.

    There are different other variations of the dumpling, the Chinese community itself having a variety of provinces and dialects. The fillings and shapes can vary.

    There are also plain (but made smaller) dumplings which one can eat them simply with sugar, or jam, honey, etc.

    We do have mochi here too, referred to as muachi in Chinese Hokkien/Teochew. This is usually served as a snack whereas zongzi can be a full meal in itself. I have friends who love zongzi so much that during Duanwu Festival, they can eat zongzi for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Of course, nothing like homemade zongzi.

  5. Thanks for reminding me about my own question, and triple thanks for this great answer! ^^

    I've said this a thousand times, but with your permission (or without) (grin) I'm going to say it again: the numerous links between China and Japan remain endlessly fascinating to me.

    The more I read Malaysian blogs, the more determined I am to go for a visit. Next trip to South Africa, via KL, with a stopover of a few days. Yes.

    Thanks again for this info! Terima kasih!