Dragon Boat Festival offers Aussies insights into China's rich culture

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Dragon Boat Festival offers Aussies insights into China's rich culture
Dragon Boat teams are seen during the Dragon boat racing at Darling Harbour in Sydney, Australia, on Feb. 5, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

Chinese communities throughout Australia have been buzzing with a celebratory vibe recently in preparation for the traditional Dragon Boat Festival which takes place on Friday, providing locals with an up-close encounter with one of the most vibrant events on China's rich cultural calendar.

Among those to taste the festival's delights this weekend is Erin, who works at the Museum of Chinese Australian History which is nestled in the Chinatown district of the Victorian capital of Melbourne.

Erin told Xinhua of her first experiences with zongzi, the "weird" sticky rice dumplings which she had tried during a visit to China. But Erin didn't realise the historical story behind it until she found the food showed up in a limited time in Australia every year.

"It's only in time when you've learnt more that you make the connection between. Oh, I used to see that food in China," Erin said of the aromatic treats which have played an integral part in the festival that dates back about 2,000 years ago.

"There's always so much to learn about Chinese customs … because they're very detailed and deep," she said. "You can see it at a sort of shallow level, or you can go deeper into the meaning and the tradition."

Erin hopes to share such cultural knowledge during the Dragon Boat Festival which will be celebrated at the museum on Sunday with a range of activities including zongzi making, folk storytelling and insights into the dramatic life of classical poet Qu Yuan (340 BC-278 BC) and the origins of the boats.

Museum chief executive Mark Wang told Xinhua that the annual event is a good opportunity to explain potentially puzzling traditions such as why the zongzi are thrown into the river during the festivity, and why people race on boats.

"The festival is really motivational, and I could tell them the answer to the questions most frequently asked about," Wang said.

Huynh, a regular museum visitor, grew up in Australia but is always eager to learn more about her Chinese ancestral background.

"It is good to know more about the culture through these kinds of festivals," she said. "It makes me feel closer to some parts of my identity."

"That's why we hold events for these major Chinese festivals," Wang added. "People here want to know the culture. We hope more of them can get an appreciation of Chinese culture as that can create social harmony in this multicultural society."

While taking time out to speak to Xinhua, Wang was happily appreciating his wife's delicious zongzi-making skills.

"I could eat as many as she gives me … three, four or five," he said.

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