Chinese people like eating, and Chinese culture is justifiably called a food culture. They have different foods with special meanings for each festival.
For Dragon Boat Festival the Chinese usually eat zongzi (rice dumpling) and various other foods below, depending on the region.
1. Zongzi — Sticky Rice Dumplings
Zongzi is the most traditional Dragon Boat Festival food. It is a traditional custom for Chinese to eat zongzi, a kind of sticky rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves. Zongzi appear in different shapes, according to different customs across the country. They are usually triangles or rectangles.
There are many different flavors. In northern China, people prefer their zongzi to be sweet. Zongzi might be filled with a few jujubes, a little red bean paste, or some other dried fruit. The southern style usually incorporates salty meat fillings, like pork or seafood. Some even dip their zongzi in sugar.
Read more about the story of why eat Zongzi at this festival.
2. Dagao — Glutinous Rice Cake
Glutinous rice cakes (打糕 dǎgāo) are eaten by the North Korean ethnic minority people, who live in Yanbian Prefecture in Northeast China's Jilin Province.
It is made of mugwort and glutinous rice, placed in a large wooden trough and beaten with a long handle made of wood. Served with honey or sugar, it tastes delicious and chewy.
Mianshanzi are a kind of wheat flour food made in a fan shape.
The custom of eating mianshanzi on the Dragon Boat Festival mainly prevails in Minqin County in Northwest China's Gansu Province.
This fan-shaped food is made up of five multi-colored layers, with each layer covered with fried sprinkles of pepper powder. The layers are pinched into a variety of patterns to make it appealing to eyes. This dietary custom is said to be traced back to the tradition of making and selling fans during Duanwu Festival in ancient times.
4. Fried Cake (Jiandui)
Jiandui is a kind of fried round cake made of wheat and rice flour and something to sweeten them. In East China's Fujian Province every family eats jiandui on Dragon Boat Festival day.
A legend explains this custom. It is said that the area enters its rainy season during Dragon Boat Festival. People believed there were holes in the sky which, if not filled, would allow the rain to continue indefinitely. Eating jiandui is said to help mend the sky and fill the holes.
The custom of eating eel on Dragon Boat Festival day prevails in central China's Wuhan region. Eels are probably eaten simply because they are in season during the festival. They are fatty and tender, and rich in nutrition.
6. Thin Pancakes
In East China's Wenzhou area, every family eats a kind of thin pancake at Dragon Boat Festival.
The pancake is made of refined white wheat flour fried in a flat frying pan. When the cake becomes very thin and translucent, as thin as a piece of silk as the locals describe it, it is done.
Green bean sprouts, leek, shredded meat, and mushrooms are then placed on the pancake, which is then rolled up and eaten as a wrap.
7. Eggs Steamed with Tea
It is a custom for people in Central China's Nanchang region to eat eggs boiled with tea at Dragon Boat Festival.
The shells of the boiled eggs are then dyed red, put into colorful net bags, and hung round children's necks, which is believed to bring them good luck.
8. Egg with Garlic
In the rural areas in Central China's Henan Province and East China's Zhejiang Province, people eat egg with garlic on Dragon Boat Festival.
Eggs are steamed with garlic and then shared with families as breakfast. Eating eggs with garlic is believed to promote health.