Celebrate A Chinese Festival in Authentic Hong Kong Style - Eat!

Food has deep meaning in Chinese culture and is of great significance to the colourful and grandiose festivals celebrated by people of East Asian descent all over the world. Each of the major and minor holidays during the year is intrinsically connected with special dishes that are essential to eat during the celebrations.

Perhaps the most well known of these holidays is Chinese New Year which is celebrated during January or February each year depending on the lunar calendar. It can be quite noisy at this time of year as anyone who has lived near any East or South East Asian community knows because of the abundant number of firecrackers set off during this time to which are believed to drive away evil spirits.

Many foods eaten during the New Year are said to bring good luck, symbolise togetherness and long life and always should be presented whole on the table, such as whole fish and chicken. Noodles are also eaten during New Year celebrations and should be made as long as possible as they represent a long and prosperous life.

The next big celebration is the Dragon Boat festival, which marks the time for Dragon Boat races whose participants range from amateurs to professional teams that compete in big cities around the world. The must-have delicacy during this festival is 'zongzi', a glutinous rice dumpling flavoured with different ingredients depending on the local custom before being wrapped and cooked in a banana leaf.

The dumpling eating history of this festival revolves around a famous poet named Qu Yuan. It is said he ended his life by jumping into a river because of great sorrow and disillusionment he felt in response to the corruption that he saw happening all around him. After his death legend says all the villagers threw rice into the river to tempt the river dragons to eat the rice and save his spirit from being devoured. His sacrifice caused the country to begin a period of reflection and a long period of peace followed. To commemorate his death, villagers began making the rice dumplings or 'zongzi' during the time of the anniversary of Qu Yuan's sacrifice, which later became known as the Dragon Boat festival and this is why 'zongzi' are still eaten to this day.

Booking flights and accommodation during either of these major festivals can be challenging due to their popularity, but if you can make it out there, the experience is extremely rewarding. Visiting a city like Hong Kong, Beijing, Taipei, or any other cities in the far-east during one of these festivals is well worth doing as the sights, sounds, food and mingling with the local people is sure to provide an authentic experience.

If you wish to find a hotel in Hong Kong or accommodation elsewhere it is best to book early if you're contemplating a visit to the far-east during festival-time. Many people in the region will also be travelling around festival time but if bookings are arranged in advance it is possible to find cheap flights and accommodation and experience a true taste of the Orient.

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About The Author, Asingleton
Adam Singleton is an online, freelance journalist and keen amateur photographer from Scotland. His interests include travelling and hiking.