Is held on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, in China the Dragon Boat Festival is not all about just racing dragon boats, but it is more a family type celebration where the whole family get together to make and eat zongzi – large or small sticky rice bamboo leaves wrapped dumplings. Or you could say stuffed bamboo leaf rice dumplings, filled with meats, beans, vegs and wrapped in square or triangle shapes.
The Dragon Boat Festival can trace its beginnings to Chu Kingdom, 278 BC. And the tale is told that during the reign of the King of Chu there was a scholar named Qu Yuan who was beloved by all the people in the kingdom for his wisdom and intellect. Thus making all the court officials jealous and so they accused him of conspiring to overthrow the king and thus were exiled.
In his exile, Qu Yuan composed many poems. In the end overcome with his anger and sorrow Qu Yuan drowned himself by attaching a heavy stone to his chest and jumping into the Miluo River in 278 BC at the age of 61.
The people of Chu tried to save him believing that Qu Yuan was an honorable man; some people desperately rowed up and down the river in their boats searching for Qu Yuan, while others made zongzi to throw into the river with the hope that the rice will sink into the water preventing the fishes from eating Qu Yuan’s body.
And thus every year since, the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated to commemorate this attempt at rescuing Qu Yuan with boat races and feasting on zongzi.