The history of the holiday started with a poet name Qu Yuan from the Warring States period of Zhou Dynasty. As a minister, Qu Yuan is a descendant of the Chu royal family and serves in the high office.
Known to be honest and kind, Qu Yuan was well known and well respected by the people. During this period when Zhou Dynasty dominates, a lot of other states begin to gain their power with lots of corruption take place. Qu Yuan fought against corruptions and sincerely advice the Emperor to not ally with Qin, one of the seven states that has been gaining power. Sadly, not only his advice was strongly objected by other ministers of the court, Qu Yuan was also accused of treason, which led the Emperor to exiled him. During his exile period, Qu Yuan did not gave up his love for his country, he continues to teach and write his ideas to people as he travels. Unfortunately, when the news of Zhou Dynasty being defeated by Qin reached Qu Yuan, he was so despaired that he killed himself by drowning himself in the Miluo River. Since Qu Yuan was so beloved by the local people, fishermen rushed to the scene upon hearing his suicide news. They rushed to his suicidal scene with their long boats in intense drum beats to help them accelerate their speed, trying to recover him. As Qu Yuan’s body was unable to be found, they threw rice balls into the water so that his body won’t be devoured by the fishes. The tradition of dragon boat race and zongzi begins for that people are commemorating their beloved Qu Yuan.
Later on, this tradition was passed on to be Duanwu Jie (or Dragon Boat Festival, Fifth Month Festival, Fifth Day Festival, etc), which takes place on the fifth day of the fifth month in traditional Chinese lunar calendar. The holiday food for this tradition were known as zongzi (粽子), a triangular-shaped rice ball made out of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves with stuffings like egg, peanuts, dates, mushrooms, and/or meats.
In the modern world today, zongzi comes in many different flavors ranging from salty ingredients to sweet dessert forms.
To this day, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, and around the world where Asian lives, they still celebrate Duanwu Jie with dragon boat festival, making and eating zongzi.