Monday, December 19, 2011

Winter Solstice Festival (Dongzhi)

Winter Solstice Festival is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chinese and other East Asians during the winter solstice which falls around on or around 22nd December each year. Traditionally, the Dongzhi Festival is also a time for the family to get together for a sumptous dinner, celebrating the arrival of winter and the lengthening of days. One activity that occurs during these get togethers (especially in the Chinese homes) is the making and eating of Tong Yuen (湯圓) or balls of glutinuous rice, which symbolize reunion. Tong Yuen are made of glutinuous rice flour and sometimes brightly coloured. Each family member receives at least one large Tong Yuen in addition to several small ones. The flour balls may be plain or stuffed. They are cooked in a sweet soup with both the ball and the soup served in one bowl. The festive food is also a reminder that we are now a year older and should behave better in the coming year. Even today, many Chinese around the world, especially the elderly, still insist that one is "a year older" right after the Dongzhi celebration instead of waiting for the Chinese New Year. Tong Yuen is also made as an offering to Buddha and their ancestors on that day.