When I was small, Christmas is called â€˜ang moh tang chekâ€™ (english dong zhi) and therefore, the Winter Solstice festival naturally became the â€˜tâ€™ng lang tang chekâ€™ (chinese dong zhi) which is translated as Chinese Christmas. Both occassions are just days apart and therefore, were both the same to me when I was small.
The Chinese Winter Solstice is celebrated on the 22nd December, 3 days before Christmas. The Chinese will make rice balls which signifies a completeness (of family, I think).
Today 19th December, a few days before the real dong zhi å†¬è‡³, I decided to let my kids had a blast playing with the dough. They love playing with the dough, making a myriad of coloured balls, some looking like planet earth, mars, jupiter and whatever their imagination allows. Does observing this tradition makes me a lesser Christian? Nope. Because this is a Chinese traditional celebrations. I feel it is important for me, as a Chinese to pass on some Chinese traditions to my sons. One has to be able to differentiate one’s race and culture from one’s religion.
To my non-Chinese friends, what is involved in making these balls is very simple. Mix the glutinous rice flour with water into a stiff dough. Make small coloured balls. Boil in a big pot of water until the balls float. Make a separate pot of syrup consisting of rock sugar and pandan leaves. Put the cooked balls and serve.
To all Chinese friends – happy rolling balls! And a year older.