Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Day of Winter Solstice

Dong Zhi ( 冬至 Arrival Of Winter ) festival for this year falls on December 22nd 2006. Traditionally, in China, the day of winter solstice is the day when night is the longest and daylight is the shortest. Being in Malaysia, there are no differences in daylight or night through out the year. Dong Zhi is one of the most important festival for the Chinese. It was first celebrated during the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). In Malaysia, it is basically a time for paying respect to ancestors and family reunion for Malaysians of Chinese origin.

When I was a teenager, my mother placed significant important to this cultural and religious festival. Praying and paying respect to ancestors are planned and executed in meticulous details. It is a day of feasting and renewal, we put on new clothes and prepared abundance foods to served to family member to signify optimism for a new beginning and abundances in prosperity for the coming new year. It is also a day for reunion for family members to get together. All family members were be served with a bowl of brightly colour glutinous rice balls in sweet syrup ( 湯圓 Tang Yuan ). By eating the bowl of Tang Yuan, every member accept the importance of unity, togetherness, and loyalty to the family. It also denote the symbolism and acceptance that we are one year older and wiser to face new challenges ahead. Another important food on Dong Zhi is the "Red beans soup" that bring good luck for the family members. Maybe this year, I will be a bit adventurous by asking my wife to serve me Tang Yuan in a cup of hot aromatic black coffee !

How do I celebrate Dong Zhi this year. As usual, I will take half day off from office on the day. I will probably visit the local wet market at 6:00AM in the morning. The shopping list include the followings :

  • For Ancestor Worshipping - Roasted Pork, Fresh Fish, Fresh Whole Chicken, Sang Choy ( fresh vegetable), Fresh Noodles, Fresh fruits, Chinese cakes, etc.
  • Ready made glutinous rice dough, usually in pink and white colour, for making Tang Yuan. Pandan leaves, fresh ginger and brown sugar for making the Tang Yuan syrup. Red beans for making the red beans soup.
  • For Reunion Dinner, I will decide on the day how much money I have in my wallet.

Usually, I will offer prayer to the main deities in my home altar table, and offer prayer and respect to my ancestor in the morning. I will have my lunch at home before I report to office to work. In the evening, my family members will visit me to eat Tang Yuan and Family dinner. After that, probably we will have our Karaoke session at home.

For those who celebrate the Winter Solstice Day, have a happy reunion dinner and a good year ahead.

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