Jiangsu / Top News

Let the dragon boat sail!

( Updated: 2015-06-19 18:01

Chinese has a tradition of grand celebration of festivals to worship the ancestors and gather family members together on such occasions. Locals in Jiangsu are no exception.

Let the dragon boat sail!

Dragon boat race on Mochou Lake, Nanjing [Photo/Asianewsphoto]

The Dragon Boat Festival, also called the Duanwu Festival, is marked by eating zongzi (sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves to form the shape of a pyramid) and dragon boat racing. The date varies each year because of the difference between the Chinese lunar and Gregorian calendars. This year, it falls on June 20. Jiangsu locals have brought out various activities to celebrate the Festival.

Local customs

Some places in Jiangsu still keep the tradition of eating "twelve reds", namely twelve red food (cherries, tomatoes or sausages) or colored dishes, such as those braised with soy sauce. Legends tell that this custom originated in Chinese preference for the red color, which carries a jubilant and festive meaning. This also explains why Jiangsu is called "land of honey and milk" with rich endowment from ancient times.


Local customs also vary from place to place in the province. For example, residents in Suzhou eat "five yellow" (ricefield eel, yellow croaker, cucumber, salted egg yolk and realgar wine) to live through lunar May, the "vicious month". They also hang mugwort leaves over the doors, wear five-colored thread and scent sachets to keep unlucky fate away.

Let the dragon boat sail!

People hang mugwort leaves and calamus on the doors and windows. [Photo/]

Let the dragon boat sail!

A child with scented sachets [Photo/Asianewsphoto]

Unlike other places, where Qu Yuan is the one to be worshipped and memorized, the most important meaning of Duanwu comes with commemoration of Wu Zixu (BC559-BC484), the statesman and military leader in the Spring and Autumn Period, who founded the Helv city (ancient Suzhou) in BC 514.


Nantong Children wearing five-colored threads is a must here. Nantong locals keep a traditional dish on Duanwu feast, which is called "he dish" and consists of stir-fried bean starch sheets, Chinese chives, bean sprouts, thick egg sheets and shrimps. Braised croaker with garlic flakes is also another local favorite.

Let the dragon boat sail!

Nantong "He dish" [Photo/provided to]


Xuzhou locals are celebrating Duanwu in a special way, in that their Zongzi is not made of glutinous rice, but the broom corn millet with red dates wrapped up in reed leaves. All three raw materials are locally grown.

Let the dragon boat sail!

Locally-featured Xuzhou Zongzi with broom corn millet and red dates [Photo/provided to]

Let the dragon boat sail!

Locally-featured Xuzhou Zongzi with broom corn millet and red dates [Photo/provided to]


Locals in Yangzhou have a habit of put up fulu, or Taoist magic figures on their doors to exorcise evil spirits, while children wear tiger-head shoes and hats and cooked duck eggs in string bags during the festival.

Meanwhile, they also have a special Duanwu snack – green bean cakes; especially those from the locally time-honored Da Qilin Pavilion food shop. The cakes with fresh smell add some sweet touch to the festival.

Let the dragon boat sail!

Da Qilin Pavilion green bean cakes [Photo/provided to]

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