Top 9 Food for Dragon Boat Festival

Written by Apple Updated Feb. 23, 2022

The Dragon Boat Festival was long marked as a cultural festival in China, which is celebrated in various ways in different regions. Chinese people eat a variety of symbolic foods during the festival, such as Zongzi, Realgar wine, and the Five Yellows. Eating these foods is believed to ward off evil and keep them safe. 

1. Chinese Rice Dumplings - Zongzi


The most important traditional food for the Dragon Boat Festival is zongzi.

 A significant part of celebrating the festival involves making and eating zongzi with families and friends.

Zongzi are sticky rice dumplings with different fillings wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves in the shape of a pyramid or cuboid. There are many different flavors of Zongzi.  In northern China, zongzi is usually sweet and stuffed with red beans or Chinese dates. While in southern China,  zongzi is salty with fillings of salted egg yolk and pork. 

The tradition of eating zongzi dates back 2,000 years to honor Qu Yuan, a renowned Chinese poet.

Read more information on: Zongzi at Dragon Boat Festival

2. Realgar Wine

Realgar Wine

Realgar wine is a traditional drink for Dragon Boat Festival. It is Chinese yellow wine dosed with powdered realgar.  

It is believed that drinking realgar wine at Dragon Boat Festival will dispel poisonous stuff and sickness. Some people sprinkle realgar wine around the house. These practices were kept for generations with the festivities honoring Quyuan, a patriotic poet of the Warring States Period.

3. Five Yellows

It is a custom to eat Five Yellow Dishes during the Dragon Boat Festival in the areas along the Yangtze River.  "Five Yellow Dishes" include yellow croaker, yellow eel, salted duck eggs, realgar wine, and cucumber. Eating these Five Yellow Dishes is believed to dispel summer heat and ward off evil.

4. Jiandui - Fried Sesame Ball

Fried Sesame Ball

Jiandui, a traditional and popular Chinese classic dessert, is a type of fried Chinese pastry made from wheat and glutinous rice flour, with sesame on the surface. Inside the sesame, ball is a large hollow with a filling consisting of sweet bean paste, lotus seed paste, or peanuts.

Jiandui is usually in a round shape, which symbolizes prosperity, auspiciousness, and good fortune. 

In the east of China, almost every family eats jiandui on the Dragon Boat Festival.  You’ll also find jiandui at other festivals like the Lunar New Year.  

5. Tea Eggs

Tea egg

 Making and eating boiling eggs with tea at Dragon Boat Festival is an old tradition in central China's Jiangxi Province. In some regions, the eggs will be put into a net bag, and it is believed that hanging these bags around children's necks will bring them good luck.

The method of making tea eggs is to boil the eggs until they are cooked inside. Then the shell of each egg will be cracked all around and the eggs will be put into a spiced tea liquid and simmered over medium heat. 

6. Thin Pancakes

Thin pancakes

In cities along China's east coast, it is a custom to make and eat thin pancakes at Dragon Boat Festival. Thin pancakes are savory rolls with pork, cabbage, and other vegetable fillings inside a paper-thin pastry. 

Made from refined flour, this pancake is fried in a pan so that it becomes very thin and translucent. Diced fry eggs, mushrooms, and green bean sprouts are placed on the pancake and then rolled up.

Eating thin pancakes is a way to honor Qi Jiguang. Legends say that when Qi Jiguang resisted the Japanese pirates, he recruited 3,000 soldiers from Lishui (East China's Zhejiang Province). To maintain marching speed, the Qi army made roll-up pancakes for the soldiers to eat on the go. This later became a custom of eating rolled pancakes during the Dragon Boat Festival to commemorate Qi Jiguang.

7. Salted Duck Eggs

Salted duck eggs

Salted duck eggs have a long time in China and are a popular food at Dragon Boat Festival in southern China.  

Salted duck eggs are usually boiled or steamed before being peeled and then shared with families as breakfast. Eating eggs with garlic is believed to promote health. 

Salted duck eggs have a slightly salty and cold nature, which can help nourish the yin, cleanse the lungs, and help treat various symptoms such as summer heat, cough, sore throat, toothache, and diarrhea.

8. Dagao - Glutinous Rice Cake

Glutinous rice cake

Dagao is a kind of cake made of glutinous rice and mugwort. It is a sweet dessert in Northeast China's Jilin Province at Dragon Boat Festival. The glutinous rice is steamed with the herb mugwort. It is believed that eating mugwort on Dragon Boat Festival day would prevent disease. 

9. Five-Color Glutinous Rice

Five-Color Glutinous Rice

Five-color glutinous rice is a popular food at Dragon Boat Festival in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. It consists of five kinds of rice of different colors: purple, black, red, yellow, and white. It is believed that the five-colored rice symbolizes the golden harvest of the year.

These are the most popular dishes for Chinese people to eat at Dragon Dragon Festival. Other regional food may include duck, mung bean cake, etc. The Dragon Boat Festival 2022 is coming, try to eat some traditional Chinese food for that festival.  

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