Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dong Zhi and Tang Yuan


Yesterday was Dong Zhi

My daughter asked me about Dong Zhi and about Tang Yuan that is used to mark the day.

I brusquely told her to Google it. Later, feeling guilty over my own ignorance, I looked up Google myself.

In the Northern Hemisphere, winter solstice is the time at which the Sun is at its southernmost point in the sky, which usually occurs on December 21 to 22 each year. 

The shortest day of the year – the winter solstice – is called Dōng Zhì (冬至) and has special meaning in the traditional Chinese calendar.

Dōng Zhì or Winter Solstice Festival has its origins in the Chinese concept of yin and yang, which represents balance and harmony in life. It’s believed that the yin qualities of darkness and cold are at their most powerful on the shortest day of the year, but also at their turning point to give way to the light and warmth of yang. For this reason, the Winter Solstice Festival is a time for optimism, so it should be celebrated.

In tropical Malaysia, just a few degrees north of the equator, Dōng Zhì is the day when families get together for a dessert of tāng yuán (湯圓), a sweet soup made of glutinous rice balls to also “keep them from frost” in the upcoming “winter” and to drive away “ghosts and other evil things”.

Click HERE for Rose's Tang Yuan recipe. You will notice her "Malaysianisation" of this dessert with the addition of screw pine or Pandan leaves to flavour the soup and the use of "bunga telang" to obtain the blue colour for the rice balls.

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