A taste of home on Winter Solstice

2019-12-23 Xinhua Editor:Gu Liping

Putting a dumpling wrapper in his left palm, Mongolian student Nergui Tsend-Ayush, 18, scooped some beef fillings onto it, folded the wrapper, and crimped the dough.

In less than 10 seconds, a dumpling was made. Tsend-Ayush's work was praised by his classmates and teachers as they encouraged him to make more.

This is a cultural activity held for foreign students on Winter Solstice in Taiyuan University of Technology (TYUT) in north China's Shanxi Province.

Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, falls on Dec. 21 or 22. In Chinese culture, it marks the beginning of deep winter and a break from farming in traditional agricultural society. It is also a time for family gatherings.

Northern China has maintained the tradition of eating dumplings on this day, while people in southern China eat tangyuan, or rice ball soup.

In TYUT, making dumplings has become a tradition for the foreign students. Launched in 2016, the activity saw over 50 students from over 20 countries participating this year.

Students gathered at the table to watch Hao Guihua, the dorm supervisor, make dumplings. They imitated her moves to make wrappers, scoop in fillings and fold the wrappers.

Soon, dumplings in different shapes were put on the table. Hao joked that many of these dumplings were "unqualified in shape", and the students, many first-timers, laughed.

"We want the students to have a better understanding of China through organizing such activities," said Zhang Fuqiang, head of the logistics support department of TYUT.

Zhang said most of the students are freshmen and the school also organizes similar activities to make traditional food on other important Chinese festivals, such as the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival.

"We eat dumplings in Mongolia too," Tsend-Ayush said. "My grandmother taught me how to make them when I was little, so that I can still eat dumplings even if I leave my hometown."

Tsend-Ayush said the cultural similarities are one of the reasons he chose to study in China.

Vietnamese student Doan Thi Trang said she has been interested in Chinese cuisine since she was little. "Dumpling symbolizes reunion, and the school teaches us to make it to let us feel we're at home."

Doan said she will send her pictures of making dumplings to her family in Vietnam to show them she is having a good life here.

In less than an hour, the students made over 1,000 dumplings, and they enjoyed the tasty food.

"Chinese dumplings have so many different kinds of fillings, it's my first time to have meat dumplings, and they're really delicious," Doan said.

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