21 December, in the northern hemisphere is the Winter Solstice which celebrates the beginning of true winter, having the shortest day of the year.
In Japan, on this day, known as 冬至”touji,”we eat pumpkin to ward off colds and take yuzu (citrus) bath to warm our body and smoothen the skin. However, maybe because it is not that of a famous occasion, I have never got to practice these.
Surprisingly, in China, this 冬至”dongzhi” is one of the biggest festivals of the year, where families get together, reunite, and celebrate with a feast.
Here in Malaysia, it seems like the Chinese do not celebrate as big as people in China, but still make and eat 汤圆 “tang yuan,” which is small balls of glutinous rice symbolises unity, served in sweet soup.
Depends on the traditional family recipes or the restaurants serving just for this day, the dumplings come in different colours, some having fillings, so as the sweet broth, seasoned with gula melaka, ginger, and/or pandan leaves.
I remember it was my first traditional event to participate, after coming to Malaysia, helping my in-laws kneading and rolling the dumplings. After so many years, it seems like my kids got to make the “tang yuan”at their school, this time.