Students Try Out Making Zongzi for the Dragon Boat Festival

On June 28, several Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School (PKUSZ) Chinese and international students got together with their fellow teachers to experience making one of the famous traditional snacks of China, zongzi, for the Dragon Boat Festival. The Dragon Boat Festival, known as 端午节 (Duānwǔjié) in Chinese, is a traditional holiday that typically falls in June.

This year, the holiday occurred on June 25 which happened to coincide with finals, thesis defenses and the commencement ceremony! It was a busy week. Of course, time could still be made for celebrating and eating.

There are many ways to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival. The English name is derived from the spectacular races that are held in cities and townships across China in uniquely crafted boats. Community groups, companies and friends get together to compete in races which can draw tens of thousands of visitors.

However, most people simply choose to stay home, relax and eat zongzi.Zongzi are the traditional stuffed sticky rice dumplings prepared and eaten on the Dragon Boat Festival. The basic zongzi is sticky rice packed into 1-3 reed leaves and stuffed with the filling of choice.

To begin, International Affairs Coordinator, Nathan Faber, displayed several videos showing how zongzi are made. Once participants had a general overview, he introduced the prepared ingredients and gave a short demonstration. For simplicity, everyone would be trying out northern style sweet zongzi. There were two optional fillings, the traditional dates (红枣), and less common peanut with sugar. 

With minimal instruction and some encouragement, everyone was soon wrapping their own zongzi. Of course, the first few attempts were not always complete successes, but through practice, everyone was able to make zongzi to be proud of.

Within an hour, there were dozens of handcrafted zongzi. The creations were then delivered to the Happy Meal Time Canteen on the PKU Shenzhen campus. The Happy Meal Time Catering Company graciously offered to boil the zongzi so the students and staff would be able to fully enjoy their own work.

With the wrapping all finished up, students went back to their studies while the zongzi were boiling at the canteen. Later that evening, everyone got back together at the Home for International Friends on the PKU Shenzhen campus for tasting!

After an hour of conversation and game playing, there were still zongzi to take home to get through the tough finals week—a small treat before the big treat that is summer vacation!

Special thanks to Happy Meal Time Catering for the help.


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