Tomorrow is December 22nd which is the Winter Solstice or Dong Zhi. It is a Chinese tradition to roll tiny glutinous rice balls and eat it with syrup. It is a tradition and not related to faith so any Chinese can do it.
But I remember how as kids, we used to string tiny, colourful ones on joss-sticks and placed it at the doors. My mom said it is for the door god. Anyway, when the rice balls dried up and hardened, they look beautiful like beads.
Talking about tang yuen, it serves me many, many memories. Long, long time ago, we used to have this nyonya neighbour who wears embroidered kebaya-type top and sarong. She insisted that all the rice balls must be perfectly round. All must be of the same size and only one or three or five colours to be used. So, she never allowed us children to touch them like they are so sacred like that.
Now? I let my kids make a gazillion colours rice balls. And they can be shaped like tortoises, hand grenade, the earth etc etc. I haven’t told them yet that we can roll rice balls tonight. They would love it but will make my whole house messy with flours on the floor, dough on the wall and colours on each other’s faces.
December 22nd is also a day when the children are supposed to return home to their parents for a meal. The roundness of the balls signifies the completeness of a family. So, make it a point to be home for your Chinese Christmas!