As I’d mentioned in the recent Tang Chek 2014 post, there had been quite a number of cutesy looking 汤圆 tang yuan versions popping up over the internet of late. Several designs caught my eye actually and had wanted to try making this holidays. There is the panda face, rilakkuma face, chubby sealions etc. There are so many to do and so little time! I tried the panda face ones yesterday and it turned out quite well. So I decided to try my hands on some goldfish looking glutinous rice dumplings, something which I’d always wanted to do!
Yes it is that time of the year again to golek some kueh ee. A year went by just like this and we have all become a year older, and hopefully wiser. As the holiday season arrives, mood relaxes as one winds down for a period of festivities and celebrations, as it is just a couple more days to Christmas and shortly after, the New Year. Like what was mentioned during last year’s Tang Chek, the coming of Winter Solstice marks the beginning of the spring cleaning and preparatory work that leads up to the Lunar New Year. So its time to get busy as well!
For the Chinese in the past, the Winter Solstice marks the arrival of winter proper, falling on either 21st or 22nd of December every year. It is an important day in the lunar calendar and for some, even more so than Chinese New Year itself. Despite being in the tropical Malay Archipelago which knows no seasons, Peranakans from the region stretching from Thailand, to Malaysia, Singapore and all the way down to Indonesia celebrate this important day as “Tang Chek” (“冬至” in Hokkien) with worship and good food. Tang Chek also marks the beginning of a two-month long process of preparatory work which leads up to Chinese New Year （Taon Baru Cina) itself, ending the festivities on Chap Goh Meh (“十五眠” in Hokkien） which mean literally the 15th day of the 1st lunar month.
Yes its the time of the year again…a time for reflections, a time for revelations and a time for new resolutions. As the end of the year draws near, one can’t help but look back at what has happened over the last 12 months. This is the time of year when people relax, unwind, preparing for the holidays and festivities to come. However, this is also the time of the year when the rains visit us again, the skies are grey half the time and sometimes, our moods follow as well.One of life’s many ironies.
Today we celebrate the winter solstice, 冬至. This is an important day on the Chinese lunar calendar as it marks the coming of winter proper. This is when families prepare themselves for the harsh cold to come. However, Singapore knows no seasons. But my family, being rather traditional, celebrates the day with offerings to the gods, most symbolically in the form of tang yuan, 汤圆 glutinous rice dumplings. When we were young, preparation started early in the morning, as my mother would knead the dough from scratch as my sister and I pinched off pieces from it, rolling them into balls, getting ready to dunk them into a hot pot of boiling water. Another pot looked on, exuding a sweet jaggery and gingery aroma from the broth that was bubbling along. Being Hokkiens, we enjoy tang yuan in hot ginger broth sweetened with raw brown sugar. My mother accentuates that we daun pandan. I remember being told by my grandmother when I was young that we had to eat the number of tang yuans (kueh ee she called it) in accordance to our age! Her little “ploy” to make us children eat more I guess!