During the coldest stretch of Shenzhen’s weather this year, making dumplings together brought a warm atmosphere to campus. Dumplings are one of the most quintessential and beloved Chinese foods around the world. On Dongzhi, the Chinese holiday marking the winter solstice, people usually eat dumplings with family. Therefore, a special dumpling-making party was held by PKU Shenzhen in the Home of International Friends on December 18.
The event was jointly organized by the Chancellor’s Secretariat Office, the Campus Service Office and the University Town Community Government. Over 20 students participated in the party. Two wonderful volunteers from the University Town community also joined the event to provide expert guidance on making dumplings.
Dongzhi, one of 24 traditional Chinese solar terms, falls in December on the winter solstice each year. As it is the shortest day of the year, it marks the coming of spring.
In ancient China, the rules of solar terms were discovered in the Han Dynasty around 2000 years ago. The bitter cold in Northern China would freeze people to the point of making their ears very painful. A well-known doctor in the Han Dynasty, Zhang Zhongjing, pitied those who were suffering and made dumplings with hot soup to help people defend against the coldness. Dumplings were called “Jiao’er” or “Jiaozi” in Chinese because they were thought to look similar to ears. People have since eaten dumplings on Dongzhi in memory of this well-known doctor.
Participants came from all different parts of China and the world. With the help of the volunteers, each dumpling had the maker’s personal style and the influence of their home. Some dumplings were similar to an ear in shape and others looked like snail shells. For most Chinese students, making dumplings might not be difficult. However, for foreign students, making handmade dumplings was an exciting challenge.
How to make a beautiful and delicious dumpling? The students learned to fill up the dumplings with just the right amount of filling so it isn’t flat but also doesn’t break apart. Once they had their beautiful dumplings wrapped up, they only had to wait for them to boil for 5-6 minutes before they were ready to dip in soy sauce or vinegar and eat!
In Chinese culture, dumplings are not only a popular food but also a symbol of family reunion. Everyone was far away from home, but here, they were together in a warm room and eating dumplings at the same table—the Nanyan family!
Thanks for the help of the volunteers from the University Town Community
Let’s see what some of the participants had to say about the event!
Chinwe Alli (from STL, PKU): This was my first time to make dumplings. In my country, Nigeria, we don’t celebrate the winter solstice, so I was curious about this activity. It felt good to make one of China’s traditional and significant dishes. It was not a difficult experience and I was glad that the dumplings turned out yummy and tasty.
Li Yang (from SECE, PKU): The dumplings today are special because they were made by ourselves. When I was at home, my mother prepared everything for me and I just ate dumplings made by her. In contrast, today is more meaningful. Today, there are so many people, we did it together. It is almost a new year, even if it is not very cold in Shenzhen, but after all it is winter, dumplings are the best food to make us warm.
Yu Mingzhu (from SCBB, PKU): This party made us feel the atmosphere of Dongzhi and the enjoyment of making dumplings by ourselves, which enhanced our sense of solidarity and cooperation, and deepened our mutual feelings. It will be a wonderful memory besides the busy study.
Written By Zhang Wendou
Photos by Zhang Wendou and Mei Siyu