Chinese Spring Harvest Festival

Yesterday was the first day of “Spring” according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar. I’m not sure what this festival is called, but I was given the impression it is something akin to the “Spring Harvest Festival”. For a typical Hokkien family, it is another one of those days of worship where food is prepared for the gods and the doors are opened for their entry into the house.

The celebration seems to be more relevant for the family and less related to the business because we didn’t need to do anything at the factory. Aside from the usual food offering, there is a special dish that needs to be prepared called, “Tong Yuin”. It is basically little coloured balls made of glutinous rice flour served with sugar syrup.

The night before the first day of Spring, both hubby and wife need to prepare twelve glutinous rice flour balls each in white and pink and these will be made larger than the others. So basically hubby will prepare twelve pink balls, while the wife will prepare twelve white ones. Since this year is a Chinese leap year (meaning there are thirteen months instead of the usual twelve), we had to make thirteen balls – each ball representing one month.

The rest of the dough is used to make smaller balls which is then cooked and eaten on the first day of Spring. Both hubby and wife have to eat from the same bowl to ensure that they have long lasting happiness and love in their marriage. I think my MIL mentioned something about the roundness of the balls representing continuity or something along those lines.

This year, we had to eat at least three balls each because each ball represents a single member of our family. Since Gavin is on the way, we’re now a family of three. Below is a picture of what the stuff looks like after it has been cooked.

Here’s what we had to eat:

The taste is not unpleasant and the syrup just tastes like sugar water. I found it a bit sweet for my liking and I certainly wouldn’t want to eat the whole pot.

I think my MIL was extremely surprised to hear that I didn’t know about this festival especially since I come from a Hokkien family. The only “Tong Yuin” I’ve ever known about are the ones with sesame paste inside that we eat for dessert. I had no idea there was a festive significance to this dish.

My MIL also told me as we were preparing the glutinous rice balls that this dish was sometimes prepared to predict the sex of the unborn baby.

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