KONCAI Passes Company Culture through a Duanwu Gathering
30 July 04

KONCAI Passes Company Culture through a Zongzi-eating Gathering

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Duānwǔjié is officially translated as Dragon Boat Festival by the People’s Republic of China. It is also referred to in some English sources as Double Fifth Festival which alludes to the date as in the original Chinese name. 

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Origins of Dragon Boat Festival

There are many sayings and explanations about the origin of the Dragon Boat Festival. Among them, two explanations are best known in rural areas and in Modern China. One explanation is popular in rural areas: it is believed evil spirits can be removed in some ways at that day. Another well-known story holds that the festival commemorates the death of patriotic poet Qu Yuan in the ancient kingdom of Chu during the Warring States Period of the Zhou Dynasty.

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In rural areas, People believed that natural disasters and illnesses are common in the fifth month. Therefore, on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, people would put calamus, Artemisia, pomegranate flowers, Chinese ixora and garlic above the doors. Since the shape of calamus forms like a sword and with the strong smell of the garlic, it is believed they can get rid of misfortune. Another custom is washing children’s body with warm water heated in the sunshine. Parents believed the water can prevent any skin diseases such as prickly heat, skin ulcers....(in Taiwan, people practiced "fetching noon water," in which people draw well water in the afternoon of the festival in the belief that it will cure all illnesses.)

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In big cities, people believe that the Dragon Boat Festival originated in ancient China based on the suicide of Qu Yuan, the poet and statesman of the Chu kingdom, in 278 BCE.

As a cadet member of the Chu royal house, Qu served in high offices. However, when the king decided to ally with the increasingly powerful state of Qin, Qu was banished for opposing the alliance and even accused of treason. During his exile, Qu Yuan wrote a great deal of poetry. Twenty-eight years later, Qin captured Ying, the Chu capital. In despair, Qu Yuan died by suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River.

It is said that the local people, who admired him, raced out in their boats to save him, or at least retrieve his body. This is said to have been the origin of dragon boat races. When his body could not be found, they dropped balls of sticky rice into the river so that the fish would eat them instead of Qu Yuan's body. This is said to be the origin of Zongzi.

Despite the modern popularity of the Qu Yuan origin theory, in some areas of China such as Jiangsu & Zhejiang, Cao’e and Wu Zixu are remembered during the festival for their filial piety and loyalism.

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Practices and Activities

Three of the most widespread activities conducted during the Dragon Boat Festival are eating (and preparing) Zongzi, drinking realgar wine, and racing dragon boats.

Dragon boat racing has a rich history of ancient ceremonial and ritualistic traditions, which originated in southern central China more than 2500 years ago. The legend starts with the story of Qu Yuan.

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A notable part of celebrating Dragon Boat Festival is making and eating Zongzi with family members and friends.

Zongzi appeared before the Spring and Autumn Period and was originally used to worship ancestors and gods; in the Jin Dynasty, Zongzi became a festive food for the Dragon Boat Festival. In Jin Dynasty, dumplings were officially designated as the Dragon Boat Festival food. At this time, in addition to glutinous rice, the raw materials for making Zongzi are also added with Chinese medicine Yizhiren. The cooked Zongzi is called "Yizhi zong".

The reason why the Chinese eat Zongzi on this special day has many statements. The folk version is to hold a memorial ceremony for Quyuan.

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People traditionally wrap Zongzi in leaves of reed, bamboo, forming a pyramid shape. The leaves also give a special aroma and flavor to the sticky rice and fillings. Choices of fillings vary depending on regions. Northern regions in China prefer sweet or dessert-styled Zongzi, with bean paste, jujube, and nuts as fillings. Southern regions in China prefer savory Zongzi, with a variety of fillings including marinated pork belly, sausage, and salted duck eggs.

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On the day, people in some areas are also accustomed to hang calamus & Artemisia on the top of the door or in the room to drive out mosquitoes and insects&fresh the room with their characteristic fragrance. Some families cook savory rice porridge with grains and nuts.

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KONCAI’s Celebrations

The festival was long marked as a cultural festival in China. It is unofficially observed by the Chinese communities of Southeast Asia, including Singapore and Malaysia. In 2004, the Dragon Boat Festival was elevated to a national holiday in China in a bid to boost traditional culture. On June 10, 2021, before the 3-day public holiday including weekends, KONCAI organized a Zongzi-eating gathering in the meeting room to celebrate the festival. Drinking milk tea & eating pizza, fruits, marinated meat and vegetables, as well as the must-have Zongzi, KONCAI people played leisure games “Number-guessing”, “Who is undercover” and others. The one who lost a game had to make a face and show the photo to others. These interactive games relieved our stress, brought happiness and laughter.

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The party came to the end with a surprise to our colleague Mark where we wished him a happy birthday with a unique birthday cake. The cake is covered with edible USD dollars, meaning we hope Mark will get a lot of orders and would be rolling in it in the near future. KONCAI is such a company full of humanity warmth and humanistic company culture.

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On the occasion of Dragon Boat Festival, KONCAI wish you all a life with fragrant and sweet flavor like Zongzi, wish you a career with flexibility and competitiveness like dragon boat racing.

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