Story Behind Zongzi and the Dragon Boat Festival


“The story behind the food I mentioned is that theres like this poet figure or something back in ancient China I’m not sure but what happened was he like during the warring states period he he advocated for like changes in the political systems he was like a political advocate of that time like a politician he had like this view for the country but like the country betrayed him by like banishing him and treating as like a traitor or like how communists were treated before the civil war and he felt very betrayed by like the country and he had no hopes for the future and so he killed himself by jumping into the river and he was really loved by the people because he was a really nice person and the people knew what he did so to commemorate him they would make this food to prevent his body from being eaten by the fish in the river the food wasn’t meant for them to be eating–this is also a myth story about the food–they would throw it into the river and they would eat the food instead of his body and thats how they wanted to preserve him i guess during that kind of festival.”


Informant (XY) is a student aged 19 from Changsha, China. He spent a few years going to elementary school in Canada but has spent almost his entire life in China. He currently goes to USC. This piece was collected during an interview over dinner in the dining hall. He learned about this story from school. He feels like the story is promoted by the government to promote patriotism.


As (XY) already mentioned in his own interpretation, this story has experienced recent growth in retellings as a result of the Chinese Government. This is an example of governments using folklore for nationalistic purposes. In this instance, it is to support those who criticized the old regime.