What does celebrating the Winter Solstice (Dong Zhi) mean to you?
Jennie Mun (age 78): The Winter Solstice has always been about bringing the family together – a time when we renew relationships by remembering our roots and rediscovering one another
Each time we gain a new appreciation of past events as old memories are reminisced from an older perspective, each time someone become interested in looking into family legacies or learning traditional skills that they weren’t interested in before – that’s us getting in touch with our roots.
We also rediscover each other when we catch up on all that we’ve experienced while away from one another. We learn a little more from each family member’s experiences and find joy in their growth, especially when there is a new member added to the family.
My time could come at any moment. Every year where I can gather the family together, watch their growth while remembering where we started and where we are today, is another year that I am grateful for.
Hui Zhen (age 21): I consider Winter Solstice like “Thanksgiving” because it’s a time to catch up with the family and to bond over childhood activities. That means no going out for that night or watching TV, spending more time with family. Recently, I thought of it as also a time for remembrance because my mother passed away in 2019 just before Covid became a pandemic.
My mother’s Tang Yuan is where I especially feel bittersweet. She has her own recipe that is served cold and is really refreshing, unlike the usual ones you buy commercially. I was never interested in cooking so I never learnt the recipe, but I now wish I did because I would feel a little closer to her during the year end.
So personally, Winter Solstice has become a reminder for me to not take things for granted and to make a more conscious effort to cherish the little things that our family does for each other.
How did you celebrate the Winter Solstice while Covid restrictions were in place?
Jennie Mun: Last year, my daughter and I got up early to make Tang Yuan balls and lamb dumplings, along with our favourite dishes. The difference was in scale, as my two sons who live elsewhere and my nephew couldn’t come over to my house. So, I used Grab delivery to send them some of the food I made and then held a Zoom session with them to eat the Tang Yuan together. Despite the restrictions being relaxed now, we will still do the same this year just to be on the safe side.
Hui Zhen: My brother and I wanted to attempt recreating our mother’s Tang Yuan last year, but we had to cancel that since my brother was working outstation and couldn’t come back due to travel restrictions. So this year, we hope to do so now that we’re all vaccinated and are able to travel again.
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