Tuen Ng Festival (also known as Dragon Boat Festival) is on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The Festival is to commemorate a well-known Chinese poet named Qu Yuan who lived over 2000 years ago.

Disenchanted by the corruption during his era, Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the Mi Luo River as a sign of protest against corruptive rulers.  Since Qu Yuan was a good swimmer, he even tied heavy weights to himself to make sure he wouldn’t float.  After the incident, in an attempt to preserve Qu Yuan’s body from being fish’s bait, inearby residents beat drums on boats with dragon heads to try to scare the fish away.  They also threw rice dumplings into the river, hoping that the fish would feed on the dumplings instead.

Since then, glutinous rice dumplings (or zong zi) and dragon boat racing are traditions that have been kept until today. Traditional savory rice dumplings are wrapped in bamboo leaves with pork, egg yolk and green beans inside glutinous rice. There are also sweet ones for those who have a sweet tooth. You can find these at Chinese restaurants as the Festival approaches. Be sure to try one during your visit to Hong Kong.

On the day of Tuen Ng Festival, dragon boat races take place at several locations throughout Hong Kong. Many locals flock to watch some of the biggest races in Stanley Main Beach, Aberdeen Promenade or Shatin Shing Mun River. If you are curious about how villagers used to drive away water ghosts, visit Tai O fishing village in the western part of Lantau Island.  There, you can see a traditional dragon boat parade.