This is the story of how 5 Malaysian students celebrated the Dongzhi Festival — otherwise known as the Winter Solstice Festival.
Dongzhi Festival, or the Winter Solstice festival, is an important celebration among the Chinese community. Traditionally, family members will get together and make tangyuan, a dessert soup consisting of glutinous rice flour and tongsui, which literally means sugar water. Eating the dish symbolizes family reunion and togetherness.
Back home in Malaysia, my grandparents, parents, uncles and aunts will get together and make tangyuan before dinner for dessert after it. The act of rolling small chunks of rice flour into small balls is fun and the adults often employ the kids to help out. Traditionally, while the “default” shape of tangyuans are somewhat spherical, playfulness often steps in and we always see shapes like cubes, cones and even animal shapes appearing from time to time! But since shape doesn’t affect the taste, it presents an opportunity where kids can shape their food and thus the enjoyable process of moulding the tangyuan.
In Nottingham, me and 4 of my friends also got together to celebrate the festival together, like any other overseas Chinese. Thankfully there are oriental supermarkets here where we can get our ingredients! We started by mixing the rice flour with water to form a dough. Meanwhile, another prepares the ginger to be used for the soup.
From time to time some decided to just fool around. When the dough is ready everyone will have to stop fooling around and start to shape the tangyuans. We also crushed some peanuts with a pestle and mortar to be mixed with sugar. When all the dough is used up, we ended up with powdery hands and played with the powdered table surface. Time to boil the tangyuans! While the tangyuans are being shaped, ginger and rock sugar were added to a pot of boiling water for the soup.
Tangyuans were mixed to the soup after they are cooked, and were served immediately! While the tangyuans are being shaped, ginger and rock sugar were added to a pot of boiling water for the soup. Tangyuans were mixed to the soup after they are cooked, and were served immediately! And this is us with our homemade tangyuan dessert! Have a happy belated Dongshi festival!