The informant is of Chinese descent and shared this piece at my request. It was an informal environment.
Tell me about the story behind 粽子 (zongzi or jung) and the Dragon Boat Festival.
“So there was this guy who tried to warn his leader about this- this army that was gonna attack him and their, their little town or whatever but he didn’t believe him so the guy ran away and he committed suicide in this river and the people realized he was right and they felt bad. So they threw-, um they threw the jung inside the river to feed his spirit.”
The informant said they remember this well because they had read about it recently online. People tend to overlook what happens in their everyday life because it feels ordinary to them. While festivals and their origins are already one of the more obvious examples of folklore, reading something online seems to present the information in a more formal setting than if it was told in passing. This may cause the audience to be more conscious of its significance. In this case, the informant had not considered zong to be something too notable beyond how it is something fairly unique to certain Asian cultures.
Annotation: As it turns out, this is merely half of the legend in some variations. Other variations have another half where a water dragon starts eating the zong and the spirit has to come back and tell the town to wrap the sticky rice in bamboo leaves.
Lee-St.John, Jeninne. “The Legends Behind the Dragon Boat Festival.” Smithsonian. Smithsonian, 14 May 2009. Web.