The history of zongzi 粽子is closely related to a famous poet and patriotic minister Qu Yuan 屈原 of the Kingdom of Chu during the Warring States 戰國 period of China (ranging from 481 BC to 403 BC). Qu Yuan served as a minister for the Chu but was ousted for opposing the alliance of a much larger kingdom called Qin. When the Qin eventually conquered the capital of Chu, Yingdu, the grief was so intense that he finally committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River 汨羅江 on the 5th of May.
Moved by the patriotism of Qu Yuan, the local people rolling their boats to save him. The act to save Qu Yuan was the origin of the dragon boat races during this festival. After they had failed to retrieve his body, they threw packets of sticky rice into the river, hoping the fishes would eat the rice instead of his body.
Chinese people serve zongzi every year on the day when Qu Yuan committed suicide, which happens on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar. This day had slowly evolved to become the Duanwu Festival or Double Fifth Festival; both means the date and month as mentioned.
Duanwu 端午节- An important festival to celebrate
Duanwu Festival (also called Dragon Boat Festival) has slowly shifted its focus from commemorating Qu Yuan to become a carnival, with dragon boat competition and eating zongzi as the key features.
Today, eating this rice dumpling remains as an important tradition among the Chinese. The way of wrapping and the ingredients in the zongzi also varied considerably in different regions.
Making zongzi is relatively easy, except for the time commitment to prepare and cook it. Please see this vedio and learn how to make Zongzi.