I have just finished making tang yuan. Another year, another achievement. The achievement of keeping and holding on to my Chinese tradition. My eldest son can take over making tang yuan now because I have always involved my kids in things like these since they were young. I left the rolling to the two younger ones.
I made two type of syrup, i.e. the ginger gula melaka and the normal rock sugar and pandan leaves flavour. I video the process. Incidentally, we just put up our Christmas light. Just bought a new set because we couldn’t locate where the old ones are.
This time of the year, I always face it with mixed feelings. There are some joy but these are also times when we missed our loved ones most. Usually for us Chinese, if we are in bereavement, we cannot roll tang yuen. Let’s say your parents our spouse just died, you cannot roll it for one year and some people practice three years. It is said that if you do, you may cause pain to your deceased loved one souls, i.e. akin to rolling their eyeballs.
Of course, I guess it is a way to keep people to be filial, i.e. continue mourning and not enjoying the festivities. Whether believe or not, we usually avoid doing so.
Come tang yuen season, it means Christmas is coming too. My brothers and sisters who were much older than me used to pamper me with Santa Claus and charcoal. Yeah, my second brother who is 12 yrs older than me, another dragon too, is the typical annoying brother.
When I was about five or six years old, (I think six going seven), my late father forced me to write a letter to Santa. I never attended kindie back then but had to copy alphabet by alphabet the letter to Santa. Come Christmas, I would get presents from Santa.
My father died when I was about eight or seven years old but the Santa tradition carries on. Thanks to my older siblings. Being impatient with little sense of time, when it was tang yuen festival, I would start hanging my stockings (more like socks). So, if I did that early, I get a piece of charcoal in my socks.
Now, I guess if I have a sick sense of humour, you can blame my second brother for the childhood trauma. Hahahaha.
Praise God, today, I have somehow celebrated Christmas as a Christian. I bet none of my parents would ever imagined that. We were strict mixture of Taiost and Buddhist. (Penangites usually tend to have a very blur line, don’t preach, ok?) We would use the joss-stick to string tiny tangyuen like satay and place them at our main door for the door god and tay choo kong. When the tang yuen dried up, they looked like beads. I wonder if people still do that nowadays?
It is good that I still remember these tiny fragments of my childhood though I don’t remember my father much. As for my mother, I only remembered how she would nag and nag and nag me because her tangyuen have to be very rounded and of the same size.
Me? I let loose my sons and they usually come up with all sort of stuffs. Today, they made kukubird or penis. Doh…Still, I know they will remember all these crazy stuffs they do now when they are old.
Tradition – keep it. Don’t ever lose it.