I had my mind set as December 22nd as the celebration of Winter Solstice but in fact, this year, Mid-Winter starts on the December 21st. Lucky I found that out this morning as I was surfing for some recipes for festive celebration, somehow I saw some food blogs featuring the preparation of their colourful glutinuous rice ball .
It was still early in the morning so I started to gather the screwpine leaves and got the rock sugar out. I prefer my TangYuans to be cooked in clear sweet soup instead of using the brown sugar and ginger type.
When I was growing up, my parents got us children to roll the glutinuous rice ball the day before, usually late at night. We rolled large white ones and small ones in colourful shades of yellow, green and pink. They usually buy them in a big glob and occasionally mom would mix the colour herself. I wanted to get those as well but this year I was a little bit busy and I thought getting the frozen pack mini balls are good enough. It was just let the girls understand the important festival as part of growing up. Perhaps in 2009, I shall get the girls to participate with the rolling of these balls for some experience.
This is the picture of the commercial pack of mini rice balls I bought this year. It is simple to cook. Just boil syrup soup and add the rice balls in! I normally buy these balls extra packets to cook them in my Bubor Cha Cha. It tastes great!
Winter Solstice is a mid-winter celebration, also officially known as Dongzhi Festival. This is celebrated by many chinese around the world where families make Tangyuan (glutinuous rice ball in sweet soup)
The information below is taken from the website:
It is a tradition that families come together on this day to celebrate the Mid-Winter Festival together. The inhabitants of the south generally make and enjoy Tangyuan, which is a glutinous rice ball that represents unity. The northern Chinese make dumplings on this day. It is believed that the tradition of eating dumplings during Winter Solstice originated with Zhang Zhongjing from the Han Dynasty. He felt sorry for the poor people who were cold and had frostbite on their ears, so he ordered his chef to make dumplings and pass them out to the people to help them stay warm. Zhang named the dumplings "qu han jiao er tang," meaning soup that takes away the cold.
Families in China use Winter Solstice to gather and store their harvest. It marks the end of the farming activities for the year, and is a time when families can relax and enjoy their accomplishments. In years past families would celebrate Winter Solstice with music and dancing, while worshipping the gods who gave them a bountiful harvest. They also pray that they will have another good year of farming.
The Mid-Winter Festival is also used to worship ancestors in the afterlife, as well heaven. Families in China deeply believe in taking care of their ancestors who have passed this life, so that they will take care of them and bring them good fortune.
It is common for families to reward their livestock for the hard work they have done throughout the year, as well as utensils that were used daily to help bring in the harvest. The families will reward livestock by fixing up their ranges and tending to repairs in the living quarters. Utensils are given a good cleaning, and making any necessary repairs that are needed for the coming year.
While not all of the traditions of the Mid-Winter Festival are still practiced in all parts of China today, many people do still celebrate to some extent. It is one of the most important holidays in the China culture.