Duanwu Festival is believed to have originated in China. The holiday is observed by Chinese worldwide as well as Koreans (who, unlike the Chinese, treat it more like Valentine’s Day). While there are many folklore tales and stories that explain its observance, the most common one relates to the suicide of a Chinese poet and statesman of the Chu Kingdom in 278BC. His name was Qu Yuan.
Qu Yuan was a Chinese scholar and was a close advisor to the ruler of the Chu Kingdom. It was also rumored that he had the hots for the King (yes, many now say that dude was probably gay). Anyway, when the King decided to ally with the increasingly powerful State of Qin, Mr Qu opposed it greatly because he didn’t trust that asshole ruler of the Qin Kingdom. The King of Chu didn’t want to hear a word of it and banished poor Qu for his adamant opposition. Poor dude was also accused of treason. Brokenhearted, he wrote a great deal of poetry during his exile. When the Qin Kingdom conquered the Chu Kingdom, instead of going to the King of Chu and doing a two snaps with an “I-Told-You-So” twist, Qu Yuan drowned himself in the Miluo River in despair. That happened on the fifth day of the fifth month.
The locals who admired Qu Yuan decided to throw food into the river for the fish so that they would not eat his body. The food, in the form of sticky rice wrapped in lotus leave, is what we call dumplings/zongzi today. Do you know those dumplings have 600-1000 calories each, depending on what’s in it? The locals really did want to fatten up the fish in the river. The locals also paddled out on their boats to scare the fish away, which is believed by many today as the origin of Dragon Boat Racing.
If you ask me, people in the olden days were so dense. They could have just taken his body out of the river and given him a proper burial. This would have saved them all these unnecessary efforts. But hey, if they didn’t do this, we would not have the yummy, albeit fattening, dumplings to enjoy today, so I should quit my yapping and enjoy a great, fat pork- laden zongzi this morning (then hit the gym and run for an hour to burn it off).