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Richmond resident makes zongzi to celebrate Chinese dragon boat festival

June 10 is 'double fifths,' the fifth day of the fifth month in the Chinese lunar calendar.

Seymour Liu, a Richmond resident, spent nearly a whole day at home making zongzi - sticky rice dumplings - to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival.

Making zongzi is a traditional custom for this festival, this year celebrated on June 10, which is “Double Fifths,” the fifth day of the fifth month in the Chinese lunar calendar.

“In China, my grandparents always make zongzi for me, so I decided to make some by myself to let my Chinese family know that we can also celebrate this festival in Canada,” Liu said.

Liu distributed these homemade rice dumplings to his Chinese friends in Burnaby and Richmond, so his friends could also experience this festival.

"My friends are all happy to get my homemade zongzi and said I made them tasty,” he added.

In Liu’s first attempt at making zongzi, he used honey-date, sweet-potato and red-bean flavours.

Liu soaked the bamboo leaves overnight, wrapped the filling in them and then steamed them for two hours.

“Eating homemade zongzi will have a more festive atmosphere than buying ready-made ones from the supermarket,” he said.

Zongzi, as a cultural symbol of the Dragon Boat Festival, are made in two different styles - sweet and savoury.

The northern styles prefers sweeter zongzi treats, while the southern style, in Guangxi and Guangdong, is made with savoury meat.

Liu used the method for wrapping savoury zongzi, which is similar to the method used to make sweet zongzi, only the rice is marinated with seasonings, egg yolks and savoury meat.

While dragon boat festivals are held throughout the summer in the Lower Mainland, including the Steveston one in August, the holiday is celebrated on the "double fifths" in China. 

The original purpose of this holiday is to commemorate Qu Yuan, a hero during the Warring States Period, which took place around the year 300 BC.

In addition to making zongzi, there are other customs like hanging mugwort leaves to symbolize safety and participating in dragon boat races to bring good luck.

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