Today is the winter solstice in the Chinese calendar. It is also a day for family reunion and have the汤圆 (glutinous rice ball). I had mine this morning. It is not hard to get them in Melbourne. It is available at the Chinese grocery store. These days, we can get them ready made from supermarkets and have them whenever we feel like it. It is also available at restaurants.
When I was small, my grandmother, aunties, my mom and cousins will gather a day before the actual of the winter solstice to prepare those rice balls. I remember having them in red, green, blue, white and pink and grandma will always insists that we made those rice balls round and more or less the same size. After all the balls were made, grandma will boil them with a special leave with good aroma and sweets. On the actual day itself, the glutinous rice balls will be served on the altar as offerings to Gods and ancestors. I miss those moments.
To me, winter solstice is also a day that will be connected to the Battle of Red Cliffs (赤壁) , happened during the Three Kingdoms period in China around 208 AD. It happened more or less around this date. I will write more about the Three Kingdom in my next blog.