An Introduction to Dongzhi Festival

This year Dongzhi Festival will be celebrated around the world on 21 December 2020. This very important festival marks Winter Solstice, and is inspired by the yin and yang philosophy of balance and harmony – the longer days following the solstice mean an increase in positive energy flowing in.

We’re happy to welcome back Ricefield volunteer Xiaochun who has written us a short blog introducing the history and customs of winter solstice in China.

Origins of Dongzhi Festival

This year in the Northern Hemisphere, winter solstice will occur on Monday 21 December. The winter solstice is the shortest day and the longest night in all parts of the northern hemisphere; the further north, the shorter the day. Dongzhi Festival is one of the eight key festivals of the year. The ancient people of China developed a tradition of worshipping their ancestors on the winter solstice to show their filial piety and to remember their roots. However, due to regional differences in rituals and customs, the forms of ancestor worship are also different in different areas. Alongside the worshipping of ancestors, in some places people also worshipped the gods of heaven and earth.

The winter solstice is regarded as an important winter festival. In ancient times, people who drifted out of the country were expected to go home for the winter festival. There is a saying that ‘the winter solstice is as important as (Chinese) New Year’, which is widely circulated in some parts of southern China. As soon as the winter solstice arrives, the Chinese New Year is just around the corner, and so the ancients believed that Dongzhi Festival is no less important than the New Year. Nowadays, many places still maintain the traditional custom of offering sacrifices to heaven and ancestors during the winter solstice.

Customs in South China

Many places in southern China will celebrate the winter solstice, and many areas along the southern coast uphold the traditional custom of worshipping ancestors. Each family will have ancestor statues in the upper hall of their homes, set up offering tables, arrange incense burners, make offerings and so on. Alongside worshiping the ancestors, some places also worship the gods of the heavens and the land to pray for good weather and prosperity in the coming year.

Cantonese people eat roast meat and ginger rice during the winter solstice. The Hakka people believe that during the winter solstice the taste of water is the most mellow, so it has become a custom for the Hakka people to make wine in this period. From the late Ming and early Qing period until now, Hangzhou people will eat niangao (Chinese: 年糕) during the winter solstice; they will make three meals of niangao with different flavours. In Sichuan, it is the custom to eat mutton soup, as mutton offers the best nourishment in winter. In Hubei, Hunan, you must eat red bean glutinous rice during Dongzhi Festival.

In some parts of the south, it is more popular to eat rice balls, known as tangyuan (Chinese: 汤圆) which means reunion. Eating tangyuan on the winter solstice is a traditional custom, and it is most common in the Jiangnan region.

Bowl of tangyuan

Customs in North China

In northern China, there is a long-held custom of eating dumplings every winter solstice. According to the legend, the medical sage Zhang Zhongjing saw the people who were suffering from frozen weather and he used lamb, some cold-fighting medicinal materials and dough to make dumplings. These dumplings resembled ears, in honour of the frostbitten patients he treated. This medicine was called qu han jiao er tang (Chinese: 驱寒娇耳汤) and he gave it to the people to eat. Later, every winter solstice, people imitated this treatment and cooked their own dumpling soup. Most parts of the north eat dumplings on this day because the word for dumplings has its origins in “eliminating the cold”.

Heritage Learning Trip 2020 – New Lanark

We organised a heritage learning trip  for our volunteers to visit New Lanark Visitor Centre in early March, where we explored fascinating history of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.  This trip has been supported by WSREC  for us to learn more about heritage site and history of Scotland, thank you for giving us this amazing experience. We were lucky to make this trip before the lockdown started.

Ricefield volunteer Amy has written a blog to share her experience:

Today is Sunday 15th March, the day of our adventure trip to the New Lanark!

It was a good trip to get some relief and enjoy some fresh air , why not! We love nature ! It was a typical wet morning in Glasgow. Of course we’ve made sure that we have done the precautions, and our volunteer coordinator Yujing even brought the hand sanitizer in her backpack! Our minibus departed at approximately 9:30am, we arrived at the New Lanark in about an hour. The New Lanark Mills heritage site, previously owned by Robert Owen, covers a fairly massive woodlands area,  and this is where thousands of people used to live during the 19th century, .


Apparently we were ‘early birds’! When we arrived, he heritage site was not opened yet, so we  decided to go for a hike in the woodland first, and to explore the falls of clyde. Walking amoung the scenic natural reserves, the sun came out from time to time, shimmering in the river, everyone seemed so happy.

 

A PICTURE OF BADGER 獾 Looks like there are badgers hiding somewhere!!

‘What is that sound? Oh, look! Immediately we saw this beautiful , giant waterfall in front of us, embracing by trees, just like a live romantic Scottish painting! We took a lot of photos and our volunteer Hao Yan performed a nice tune on the flute in front of the waterfall for us.

Group Photo

Then, we kept walking, talking, and just relaxing ,immersed with the nature. We smelled the forest, discovered some unknown flowers, fully enjoyed the beauty of nature. Afterwards, we went back to the site. It was open now. Our first stop was the Annie McLeod experience ride, where we sat in motorised ‘pods’ which led us around the ride. We travelled back in time into a world of the people who lived in this village 100 years ago, in which we were guided by a virtual girl Annie who told us the story of their interesting old way of living , the people and everything. It was so magical and fascinating to learn about the history in this way. We all loved it!

A quirky doorway catched my eye.

 

Next, we visited to this mill’s owner, Mr Robert Owen’s old house. It was a big and fancy house that indicated the status and the richness of the owner at that time. There were a lot to explore. We got to see some rare pictures of the Owen family and more history about New Lanark.

 

We also had the chance to visit the shops and school of the Mill. Children used to have lessons and making friends in this place, that was the idea of Mr. Owen that everyone should have the opportunity to be educated and he also believed that the notion of building up a community where people can happily live, work, go to school and more. And he did, marvelously, through these ancient buildings and stories I can imagine their lives in the past, their happy community lives. 

 

After that, we visited the old factory where there are displays of different tools and machines that joined in the process of producing the wool we see today. Good to see this interesting making process! We also went to the roof top garden  where the whole New Lanark was overlooking by us. However ,it was super cold up there, we made our wishes in the wish pool and we quickly left!

 

 

Lastly, we came to an eco-friendly children’s playground, and spent some time hanging out. We were as happy as a child!   After about 4 hours’ visit at the New Lanark, we were back in our minibus and headed home. It was an amazing trip for everyone, and we got to know each other better through this trip.  It would be a memory that we could always look back with a smile .

 

 

Thanks to everyone!! Wish we will go on our next trip soon !

New Lanark, we’ll definitely be back again!

Glasgow Kite Festival


Let’s fill the Glasgow sky with kites!

Come along to Glasgow Kite Festival on July 22 in Bellahouston Park for a day of fun activities for all ages. You’ll have the chance to make, decorate and fly your own kite, as well as learn about the kite’s long history from ancient China to today.

There will be craft workshops, games and sports, a chance to try traditional Chinese clothing, a treasure hunt with a special prize, and, of course, kite flying. The festival is free, and open to all – you don’t need your own kite to join in!

Find us in Bellahouston Park, beside Mosspark Boulevard.

We’re working with local partners to host extra community kite-making workshops throughout July, join a group near you:

Glasgow Mela, Sunday 24 June
Gilded Lily, Thursday 5 July
Interfaith Glasgow, Saturday 14 July
Chinese Community Development Partnership, Wednesday 18th July
Kelvin Hall, Thursday 19th July

Join our Facebook Event for the latest updates.

Thanks to our partners Glasgow Sport, Glasgow Life, The Kite Club of Scotland, and our local partners Gilded Lily, Chinese Community Development Partnership and Interfaith Glasgow.

Supported by Festival 2018, the cultural programme for the Glasgow 2018 European Championships.

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Tea Ceremony for Book Week Scotland 2017

On December 2nd, Ricefield hosted a tea ceremony with a literary twist for Book Week Scotland.

In Glasgow’s Project Cafe, Ricefield artist Clarinda led us on a tea journey, where we had the chance to sample five authentic brews, as well as learning more about the first book written about tea in China: Cha Jing by Lu Yu.

Take a look at our cosy evening:

 

Volunteer 义工

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There are regular volunteering opportunities at Ricefield. If you would like to propose a period of volunteering in order to gain valuable experience and be added to our volunteer database, please fill in the form below or contact: info@ricefield.org.uk

苗圃华人文化艺术中心经常提供不同种类的义工机会。这是一个吸取宝贵工作经验的良机,如有兴趣报名, 请填写以下表格或发电子邮件至:info@ricefield.org.uk

 

Archive | Self – Pamela So

Pamela So January 2005 Pamela So was the first artist to exhibit at Ricefield (Surface, 2004) and in partnership with Glasgow Metropolitan College, initiated the first arts education project, aimed specifically at young Chinese people. The work was subsequently exhibited at The Burrell Collection in 2005.

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