Saturday, December 22, 2007

This Is the Day for Tang Yuan

Today, the Chinese all over the world will savour tang yuan, a type of glutinous rice balls immersed in syrup to celebrate the arrival of Dong Zhi (literally the arrival of winter or Winter Solstice). According to the lunar calendar, Dong Zhi is the last of the twenty-four qi jie or seasons. After this comes spring when Chinese New Year will be celebrated.

Dong Zhi falls on the 22nd of December if it is a leap year and 21st of December if February has only 28 days for the year concerned.

To the Chinese, tang yuan is the symbol of reunion and unity among family members as well as perfect fulfillment. On this day, all family members will gather to eat tang yuan together.

To produce tang yuan, glutinous rice powder is mixed with water and kneaded until the mixture is homogeneous. Dyes of different colours of your choice are added to the dough. For good omen and auspiciousness, five types of colour are mixed with five portions of the dough. It is quite tricky to make really round balls of tang yuan from the dough. You have to pinch a certain amount of dough, roll it between your palms in a circular clockwise or anticlockwise manner. The roundness of the tang yuan is determined by the pressure of your palms, the position of the dough and the circular motion. With practice and trial and error your tang yuan should turn out to be as spherical as it should be.

The Chinese believe that they are older by one year after having eaten tang yuan.

Happy Dong Zhi to all Chinese readers.

White dough

Pink and green dough

Making tang yuan

Tang yuan ready to be boiled in water with sugar

Come, help yourselves to the tang yuan.

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