Chinese Church Voices

The Hidden Love Behind Festival Foods

A Reflection on Dragon Boat Festival and Holy Communion

Chinese Church Voices is an occasional column of the ChinaSource Blog providing translations of original writing by Christians in China. The views represented are entirely those of the original author; inclusion in Chinese Church Voices does not imply or equal an endorsement by ChinaSource.

Editor’s note: Today is Dragon Boat Festival, and we hope that you find in this heartfelt reflection a connection between the beloved tradition of eating zongzi and the profound spiritual significance of Holy Communion. Through personal memories and biblical insights, the essay beautifully illustrates how simple foods can embody deep love and faith. Enjoy this touching piece as we celebrate Dragon Boat Festival.

This is a translation of an excerpt of from As Promised: Spiritual Practices for Church Festivals and Traditional Chinese Festivals (如约——教会节期与中国传统节日灵修) by Jeshurun and published by ReFrame Ministries. Click here to find the e-book version in simplified Chinese.

Meditation Verse: Exodus 12:8

Like the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival is marked by a specific food—zongzi (粽子). While not every place has dragon boat racing, almost every place eats zongzi. Eating zongzi is a must during the Dragon Boat Festival, just like eating mooncakes during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Mooncakes have become a national industry, but zongzi still retains its strong local flavor.

Different places have different zongzi, and the differences between northern and southern zongzi are significant. People from the south may find it difficult to get used to the plain, tasteless, and slightly sweet jujube zongzi from the north. The zongzi from southern Fujian is salty, with a strong flavor and aroma. When I was young, I thought zongzi was the best food in the world. My mother would first soak the glutinous rice and small black beans separately. Then, she would drain them and mix the glutinous rice and black beans with salt and seasonings. She would also soak dried mushrooms. She would cut the pork into large pieces, add salt, and stir-fry it in a pot until the oil was extracted. When wrapping the zongzi, she would put a piece of stir-fried pork and mushroom in the middle of each zongzi. After wrapping, she would steam them for two to three hours, and the fragrant meat zongzi would be ready. This is my most beautiful memory of the Dragon Boat Festival. To me, the delicious zongzi represents my mother’s gentle, meticulous, and flavorful love.

In Exodus 12:8, it is recorded that when the Israelites celebrated the Passover, “they shall eat the lamb that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.” Perhaps the Passover dinner was not as delicious as the zongzi eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival, but it conveyed God’s mighty love of salvation. Before the Pharaoh of Egypt, the Lord God prepared a banquet for his people, filling their hearts with sweetness, happiness, and joy.

God has prepared another banquet for his children, which is the Holy Communion prepared by Jesus for his disciples. This is a dinner of love, where Jesus’ love is fully poured out. The simple bread and cup, in the presence of the Holy Spirit, become the body and blood of Christ for those who receive them in faith. Our loving Lord meets us, reveals himself to us, and supplies us through food at the table.

Whether food appears simple or abundant, sweet or bland, what matters is that we can experience the deep love hidden behind it.

Let’s Pray on the Dragon Boat Festival

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for all your wonderful creations; thank you for allowing us to enjoy delicious zongzi during the Dragon Boat Festival; thank you for expressing your love to us through food, especially in Holy Communion. We are so blessed!

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Pastor Jeshurun (pseudonym) holds a master of divinity and a master of theology from Calvin Theological Seminary, specializing in the New Testament. He currently serves in Beijing.View Full Bio

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