LIFE / CULTURE
Celebrating Dragon Boat Festival in Macao
Back to the races
Published: Jun 05, 2022 05:03 PM
Locals in Macao make <em>zongzi</em> for the Dragon Boat Festival on June 2, 2022. Photos: IC

Locals in Macao make zongzi for the Dragon Boat Festival on June 2, 2022. Photo: IC

Locals in Macao make <em>zongzi</em> for the Dragon Boat Festival on June 2, 2022. Photos: IC

Locals in Macao make zongzi for the Dragon Boat Festival on June 2, 2022. Photo: IC

With thousands of dragon boat racers competing on Macao's picturesque Nam Van Lake and the festive delicacy of zongzi, a locally popular glutinous rice dumpling wrapped in reed leaves, the traditions of Dragon Boat Festival have been well-preserved in the Macao Special Administrative Region.

On Friday, different groups of dragon boat racers from across Macao gathered to test one another's physical prowess, skills and team spirit as gongs and drums of the annual Macao International Dragon Boat Races reverberated above the lake.

The races, lasting throughout the day, attracted many visitors sitting in temporarily set-up chairs or standing by the lake, despite intermittent rain.

Pun Weng-kun, president of the Sports Bureau of the Macao SAR government, said the races embrace the cultural heritage of the Dragon Boat Festival and have developed into an annual large-scale sporting event in Macao.

"We hope to raise the standards of local dragon boat competition, enrich the leisure life of residents and give tourists an experience of Macao's unique 'sports + tourism' ambiance, particularly against the backdrop of regular epidemic control," Pun said.

Yeung Ging-wing, one of the racers, said he really enjoyed the bustling atmosphere of dragon boat racing. 

"Besides, racing can help us stay healthy while promoting the traditional Chinese culture."

The Dragon Boat Festival is traditionally celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month on the Chinese calendar. 

In 2022, the festival fell on Friday.

In the lineup to the festival, Macao residents have kept the tradition of eating zongzi. Each year around this time, Lan Heong-kuok, a typical Cantonese tea house located in the old town area of Macao Peninsula, turns its first floor into a workshop. 

Employees make zongzi on site with fillings of pork, beans and salted egg yolk, and put them on rows of iron racks for display, making it quite a sight.

"Our zongzi sell very well every year," said Chan Zi-wai, whose father founded the restaurant 59 years ago. 

"We have retained the traditional method of making zongzi by hand. Customers like the way it is. We sell mostly to local residents, but tourists come here too."

A Macao resident surnamed Choi said she had recently come to the restaurant to buy zongzi more than once.

"They offer different varieties of zongzi here," Choi said. 

"I bought zongzi not only for my own family, but also for friends as gifts."

The Macao Polytechnic University organized a zongzi workshop, inviting experienced chefs to teach students from Portuguese-speaking countries, including Brazil and Cape Verde, how to make the festive food.

Jociney, one of the students, said the experience of learning to make zongzi helped him better understand traditional Chinese culture, and also facilitated cultural exchanges between students of different countries.