Count Your Blessings!

With love and passion, everyone can have a nice garden...Elaine Yim

Count Your Blessings!
Count The Garden By The Flowers, Never By The Leaves That Fall.
Count Your Life With Smiles And Not The Tears That Roll.
..... Author unknown.

Knowing me, Knowing you..... Aha.....!

Notice Board

Malaysian Flora USDA Zone 11
Welcome to our exotic world of everlasting summers and tropical rainforests!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Rose, Rose, I Love You

A single rose can be my garden, a single friend my world.... Leo Buscaglia

If you enjoy the fragrance of a rose, you must accept the thorns which it bears ..... Isaac Hayes

But friendship is the breathing rose, with sweets in every fold ..... Oliver Wendell Holmes

But he that dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose ..... Anne Bronte

What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet ..... William Shakespeare

O my Luve's like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June" by Robert Burns.
(Thank you for this beautiful quote, Babara of Gardening in Mannheim, Germany).

Today December 22nd, 2009 is mid-winter solstice.

It is a day when I celebrate the Dong Zhi Festival by offering prayers and making glutinous rice balls or Tang Yuan. The whole family will gather together to eat tang yuan. When I was little, grandma used to tell me that this was an important day, more important than Chinese New Year, for after this day, I shall get older by one year. She had many fond memories of celebrating Dong Zhi with her family members in Fusan, China. Grandpa will tell his story about Kwantung (Canton) and Mum would tell hers about Swatow, Teochew style. An uncle from Hong Kong and another aunt in Thailand will celebrate theirs a little bit differently. I used to wonder how long more will this festival continue to be celebrated.

Eventhough we are living in the sunny tropics where there are no winters but endless summers, many of us still hold on to this tradition. When I was younger, it was quite difficult for me to relate to the special significance of this festival. Now that I have virtually travelled round the world watching the seasons change in your gardens and homes, I begin to appreciate what it means even more. I guess Dong Zhi will continue to be celebrated for as long as there are winters and the 4 seasons on Earth.

The Dong Zhi (Chinese: 冬至) or Winter Solstice Festival (Extreme of Winter) is an important festival celebrated by Chinese all over the world. This day which usually falls between December 21 - 23 is a day signifying the "Extreme of Winter" when sunshine is at its weakest and daylight shortest in the Northern Hemisphere.The Chinese believe that although the yin qualities of darkness and cold are at their most powerful at the time of Dong Zhi, it is also a turning point, heralding the dawning of the light and warmth of yang.

In olden days of China, winter was a cold and because medical science was not so advanced then, many people froze to death. On this day, offices and businesses would be closed. Family members return home and gather together to eat tang yuan. Dong Zhi is thanksgiving, Chinese style. It is the last festival of the year. Coinciding with the winter solstice, it is a time for the entire family to get together to celebrate the past good year. Glutinous rice balls known as Tang Yuan (汤圆) are cooked and eaten to signify unity and harmony within the family.

Tang Yuan of various colours in sweet syrup (brown sugar or 'gula Melaka' on the left). I like the syrup with pandan and ginger flavour. We make the pink/red ones to bring good luck. The green ones are usually pandan flavoured while purple ones have yam. Orange looks like gold. This is also classified as 'tong shui' or sweet dessert drinks. In Malaysia it is available throughout the year.

Are you celebrating the Winter Solstice too?

This post is dedicated to Deb of Dragonfly Treasure blog from Newman, California, USA my first commenter for my previous post, The Secret Garden of 1-Utama. She has a beautiful mozaic of snowman pictures in her latest post.

Acknowledgement: The pictures are taken at The Secret Garden of 1-Utama.


  1. Happy Winter Solstice Autumn Belle! It is so interesting to hear about your traditions of marking mid=winter. Wishing you a wonderful festival! Lovely, Lovely post of roses and quotes! Carol

  2. Hello Autumn Belle,

    Roses are my favorite flower. Your photos remind me why I love them so much. I am planning on planting 3 new rose bushes this January. I am just deciding which ones to try. I am glad you were able to find out what your purple UFO was.

  3. I wish you and your family a very happy Winter Solstice Autumn Belle. Your story was very interesting to me. It makes our modern day celebrations even more special when we consider how they came to be. Have a wonderful day!

  4. Hi Autumn Belle! Merry Christmas! Kaija

  5. I love the yellow one! SO pretty and refreshing! Happy winter solstice!

  6. Wow AutumnBelle! Your tong yuen looks delicious. I have not tried the gula melaka syrup before. But I like the the normal sugar with ginger very much. With nice and dessert and beautiful roses... I am sure you and your family are enjoying the Dong Zhi festival to the fullest :-D

  7. Happy Dong Zhi to you :)
    Love the pictures of the roses.

  8. Your photos are so pretty! Happy Winter Solstace to you and your family! Thank you so much for the dedication!!

  9. I have missed eating the Tang Yuan for many many years so I would not grow older always maintain at sweet 16? haha. Nice roses and the quotes. Ai lovely apple clock.

  10. Carol, you are having a happy winter solstice at Flower Farm Hill too. I have enjoyed the lovely scenery shots over there.

    Noelle, LeSan,Kaija, Lisa, Stephanie, Dominique, Deb. I'm glad you all enjoyed the roses. Thank you so much for the happy wishes.

    Bananaz, since Tang Yuan is tong shui, so eating this dessert is good for your skin and complexion, therefore it makes you look good. Yes, always at sweet 16!

  11. Thanks for showing us the Tang Yuan, Autumn Belle, and what the colors mean, taste like. I too love hearing about your culture and the meanings and history of your family. May you and yours have the best 2010 will offer. ;-)

  12. Wonderful information about this feast. I'm so glad you still are able to observe your family's traditions even in a warm climate. It is always good to learn about other cultures and beliefs.
    Thank you.~~Dee

  13. Oh, and roses are my favorite too.~~Dee

  14. My family eats both sweet and salty Tang Yuan, and I like the later more.

    Anyhow, we believe we are one year older after this day.

    Happy Dong Zhi.

  15. What a lovely post, Autumn Belle. I love your rose pictures with poetic quotes. Here's one of my favorites you could probably have fit in, too: "O my Luve's like a red, red rose
    That’s newly sprung in June" by Robert Burns. We celebrate winter solstice by lighting candles and setting up the Christmas tree, an attempt to create cheer on the darkest day of the year.

  16. Autumn Belle, thank you for all you have shared with us this past year. We wish you a merry Christmas and a wonderful Winter Solstice.

  17. I want to taste this Tang Yuan, it looks delicious in the photo, however it really looks very sweet, which i am not really very fond of. So sweet Christmas of you, Autumn Belle. I would like to greet your Blog friends, because they don't visit my blog, i will just extend my best wishes to them here. thank you.

  18. Belated solstice greetings to you as well! I love solstice because once it's past, the days get longer--maybe only a minute or so a day at first, but when you live in the northern hemisphere, every minute is a good thing.

  19. Frances, Dee, Rainfield, Babara, Di, Andrea, Jodi. Thank you very much for the nice comments and Dong Zhi wishes. It is only this year that I learn that people in the West celebrated the Winter Solstice too!

  20. Di,thank you very much for visiting MNG. I am grateful to you for teaching me how to back up my blog recently. That was a very timely comment indeed.


Words are like the voice of the heart... Confucius

Note: If you are unable to comment on my latest post, click on the post title to reopen the post and try writing your comments again. Comments under "Anonymous" will be automatically treated as spam if no name is included.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin