Festivals Food for Thought

Dongzhi in Malaysia

Tong Yuen @ Dongzhi, Malaysia
Tong Yuen @ Dongzhi, Malaysia

So it is end of the year again. December always seem to be the special month of the year, something like a black sheep of the family. Technically it is no different of any other month in the year, but somehow it is special. To some it would mean Christmas but to the Chinese it would mean Dongzhi Festival, for the school goers it would mean holiday and for many others it would just mean the end of year, the time to reflect, to pay gratitude and settle personal debts if there are.

As a Malaysian Chinese, even though I have never been to my origin of country before, China, where my grandparents and great-grandparents came from, I was like the rest here who had never forgetten their culture. We are still tied very much to our roots, calling ourselves Chinese, proudly claiming which clan we are from – Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka, Teo Chew, and Hainan and so on. It is so natural, where one Chinese would ask another their surname (to judge) or just asking straight out which clan they are from.

So even though we have long (or always) been living in Malaysia, and even with the ever predictable weather of either rain or shine, we still carried on the tradition of celebrating Dongzhi (Winter Solstice) Festival, where in Cantonese we call it Kor Tong, loosely translated as ‘passing through the winter’. So in order to kor tong, the tradition is to eat Tong Yuen (glutinous rice dumplings), along with various hot sweet soup, my Ah Ma usually make the sweet ginger soup version. It seems that we like to celebrate with glutinous rice, reminded me of my Bak Chang for Duan Wu festival.

As I said before, after coming up to KL, away from family, I seldom have the chance to enjoy all these festivals anymore, what more to have the chance to eat Ah Ma’s tong yuen. I wish I would have the chance to once again make these with her, rolling of colorful balls, making them round this time. Fortunately though, I had a chance to eat home made tong yuen this ‘winter’ as J’s mum made some for the family. J and I only had it today, late from the real date because we had been away for a weekend escapade with friends (food adventure to follow soon). I was so happy when I found that J’s mum had made the sweet ginger soup version, this one sweeten with my favourite gula Melaka. J’s mum made small plain tong yuen in pinks and also big white ones with crushed peanuts filling. It was absolutely delicious! So I guess now I have officially kor tong, what bout you?

Tong Yuen @ Dongzhi, Malaysia
Tong Yuen @ Dongzhi, Malaysia

By the way to everyone who is celebrating, Merry Christmas, and to the Chinese of the world, Happy Dongzhi and I wish you all abundant with family and friends reunions.

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