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Chinese Festival: Winter Solstice Festival 冬至

We had been celebrating 'Dong Zhi' (冬至) for years and to be frank, I don't what we call this festival in English until today, Winter Solstice Festival. This festival normally falls towards the end of the year (between Dec 21 - 23), and this year, the Winter Solstice Festival falls on 22 Dec 2007

This is known to be the most important festival for Chinese before Chinese New Years in. How we celebrate the festival since it is so important? Today is the day where most of the family members will gather together to have a short gathering to celebrate the good year they had spend.

Of course we can't forget about 'Tang Yuan'. This is a must have dessert among all the Chinese family. I wonder if the rest of the family having the same way like I do. We need to have same quantity of 'Tang Yuan' as our age. Like I am 29 years old and next year will be 30. So I need to have 30 'Tang Yuan'... :P

Here are some explanation I am to obtain from Malaysia Page Blog about the Tang Yuan.

Tang Yuan, ( 汤圆 in mandarin ), also called glutinous rice balls or also commonly known as ‘kuih ee, is one of the Chinese delicacy, which is made by mixing glutinous rice flour with a small amount of water and form into round balls and is then cooked in boiling water and normally served in syrup water. It is very common among the Chinese community in Malaysia during festival season, especially on the Dong Zhi a.k.a Winter Solstice Festival.

There are several methods of preparing Tang Yuan. Tang Yuan can be unfilled or filled; fillings could include red bean paste, chopped peanuts and sugar, sesame paste, rock sugar, etc. Normally people will serve their Tang Yuan with hot ginger syrup, pandan-flavoured syrup or soya bean milk. Those with more time will make the tang yuan themselves, but now, the glutinous rice balls are also sold in supermarkets...quoted from the Malaysia Page Blog

I never thought they would be any story behind this festival until I read the below blog. Wonder if it is true, but this is a interesting sharing though.

There’s a story behind the tradition of eating Tang Yuan among the Chinese. According to history, legend claims that in Ancient China, a poor family caught a fish to celebrate Dong Zhi but in her haste to eat it, a fish bone was stuck at the mother’s throat causing her discomfort. A beggar approached them for food and the daughter gave the fish as that was the only food they had. Seeing the mother’s discomfort, the beggar gave her lumps of dough which she swallowed and got rid of the fish bone. After hearing this, the villagers believe that eating Tang Yuan will help ward off bad luck and that tradition has persisted till modern day....quoted from the Malaysia Page Blog

We hope most of us can hold this tradition and pass it through next generation as this is a very meaningful festival.

To them, Tang Yuan is a symbolic of family reunion, the roundness of the Tang Yuan signifying a complete circle of harmony, unity and prosperity within the family. Nonetheless, it is indeed the thoughts of being together with the family members in celebration of festival season that really matters...quoted from the Malaysia Page Blog

Note: Specially thanks to kokahkok for granted permission of photo usage on all the above photo.


  1. welcome....i still have more just like these 3! hope u like la!

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  3. My grandma and my mother used to address this day celebration as Chinese Christmas Day. Eating the rice ball meant that we would be a year older. It was a day whereby we, as kids enjoyed as it meant the Chinese New Year was round the corner.

    Bringing back memories. I presently reside in California. Born and bred in Penang, Malaysia.