80 members of Malaysian family reunite for Dongzhi

KUALA LUMPUR: Winter Solstice - or Dongzhi - has traditionally been the time for Chinese families to gather.

And one family here did just that, gathering over 80 members from Penang and Ipoh as well as countries as far as Australia and Singapore.

Operations director Vincent Wong, 43, said the idea had come about after a cousin overseas expressed the wish to meet their relatives.

"I thought it was a good opportunity for all of us to gather and know each other better," he said, adding that with the help of several cousins, he then contacted his relatives via social networking sites.

The family, led by his grandparents, has 99 members with the 100th being baby girl Eryn, expected to be delivered by his cousin today.

Yesterday, the family got together at the house of Wong's uncle to look through some old photographs and eat the tangyuan (glutinous rice balls).

Among those at the reunion was Wong Yat Kuan, a 71-year-old former restaurateur, who was given away when he was four.

"This is an occasion that I have been longing for my entire life. We were so poor my mother was forced to put me up for adoption.

"I missed my family so much and have always wanted to go back," said Yat Kuan, the sixth of 10 children of Wong Kam Choon and Lai Fong.

Making an emotional speech at the gathering, Yat Kuan said he was glad to have been invited to the reunion.

"Thank you for inviting me and treating me as part of the family," he said as other family members clapped and cheered him on.

This year, Winter Solstice, which is widely celebrated in China, Japan, South Korea and other East Asian countries, falls today.

Want to make your own tang yuan?

Here's a recipe from the SoShiok archive for Tang Yuan in Osthmanthus soup.