Gigantic Zongzi for Festival

Updated: 2007-06-18 09:00

The real highlight of the festival is the fierce dragon boats racing in a lively and vibrant spectacle. Teams race the elaborately decorated dragon boats, whose heads are shaped like open-mouthed dragons, while the sterns end with a scaly tail, to the beat of heavy drums. A drummer and flag-catcher stand at the front of the boat. Before a dragon boat enters competition, it must be "brought to life" by painting the eyes in a sacred ceremony. Races can have any number of boats competing, with the winner being the first team to grab a flag at the end of the course. Annual races take place all over China (including Mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan), and other overseas Chinese communities.

Zongzi, the traditional food for the festival, is a glutinous rice ball, with a filling, wrapped in corn leaves. The fillings can be egg, beans, dates, fruits, sweet potato, walnuts, mushrooms, meat, or a combination of them. They are generally steamed.

The celebration is also a time for protection from evil and disease for the rest of the year. At the beginning of summer, when diseases are likely to strike, people fend off evil spirits by wearing talisman, hanging healthy herbs on the front door, drinking nutritious concoctions, and displaying portraits of evil's nemesis, Zhong Kui, on the door of their homes. If one manages to stand an egg on its end at exactly 12:00 noon, the following year will be a lucky one.