The end of Chinese New Year – Yuanxiaojie

26 Feb

Two weeks after the official Chinese New Year’s eve is the end of spring festival – Yuanxiaojie.  This year Yuanxiaojie fell on a Sunday, so I didn’t have to work.  The moon is full and the tradition locally is to eat “tang yuan” which roughly translates into soup balls.

The moon on my walk home on Yuanxiaojie - even visible among the bright lights of Shanghai

The moon on my walk home on Yuanxiaojie – even visible among the bright lights of Shanghai

The translation however doesn’t do the actual food justice.  A tang yuan can be sweet or savory with different fillings included inside – my favorite is black sesame and peanut, but there are lots of options including different types of meatballs, chestnut, green tea flavor, taro, coconut…  It looks like a little moon nestled in your bowl before you bite into them to discover the flavor.

Frozen tang yuan - before cooking

Frozen tang yuan – before cooking

A bowl of tang yuan before I ate them :-)

A bowl of tang yuan before I ate them 🙂

This time of year they are on special at the supermarket and tang yuan shops pop up where people can get fresh ones made as well.  One year a vendor that I work with gave me a couple of packages for free.  Ours this year were left by Li’s mom that she hand made before she headed back after celebrating the festival and were a sweet mixture with goji berries which I hadn’t had before.   To celebrate we boiled some up and watched the fireworks.

The year of the snake is starting well – and having tang yuan makes it even sweeter.  One of my friends sent me a weixin with holiday wishes which had an animation of a tang yuan turning into a small snake which made me smile.

Have you noticed any traditions from other countries that you have adapted into your day to day life?  Sometimes the small holidays are the easiest to absorb and make your own.

7 Responses to “The end of Chinese New Year – Yuanxiaojie”

  1. Nate February 26, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    The sweet dumplings are somewhat addictive and delicious. Hope you had a good new years celebration.


    • gkm2011 February 27, 2013 at 7:39 am #

      I did. I think I finally may be getting the hang of New Years here.

  2. expatlingo February 26, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    I had the misfortune of buying a batch of black sesame-filled ones. Once boiled up they looked exactly like eye balls. Delicious, but I couldn’t look at them while eating!

    • gkm2011 February 27, 2013 at 7:40 am #

      Your imagination ran away from you! I think it has something to do with the fact we eat very few black foods.

  3. ladyofthecakes February 26, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

    Oooooooh, I love anything that resembles a dumpling… I so miss Knödel!!!
    I really like baozi and jaozi. There’s a Chinese restaurant across from the Train station in Toledo that makes tolerably good baozi. Would to try those moon things. Sigh.

    • gkm2011 February 27, 2013 at 7:41 am #

      Well, if you are ever in the neighborhood I will treat! Enjoy the jiaozi.

      • ladyofthecakes February 27, 2013 at 8:16 am #

        See you in 12 hours! [Throws clothes into a suitcase]

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