China Folk Food: Jiaozi (Chinese Dumplings)
Jiaozi (Chinese Dumplings), known as Chinese meat ravioli and a substantial stuffed dumpling, is one of Chinese traditional food, as well as a popular China folk food for China's main nationality, with the history of more than one thousand and eight hundred years.
As a cooked wheaten food, Jiaozi has wheat flour ski, vegetable, meat or meat and vegetable mixing as the filling wrapped, shaping half round or half-moon, small and thin ski.
Customs of Jiaozi
During the Spring Festival, the Chinese have the tradition to eat dumplings, especially in northern China (some other traditions in some southern areas) to celebrate the Lunar New Year, wishing good luck. In the Huanghe Valley, it is a tradition of eating jiaozi on New Year's Eve, Shousui (observe the year out on New Year's Eve) for thousands of years.
As historical documents, this convention dates from Dynasty Ming and becomes a popular and fixed since Dynasty Qing. On the eve of New Year, it is the alternation of new and old days. The Chinese call this moment “Jiaozi”, the same pronunciation as the China dumplings in Chinese and would like to have some ceremonies to celebrate it, praying good luck.
Folktales of Jiaozi
Zhang Zhongjing and Jiao’er
Jiaozi, primitive name “Jiao’er”, is invented by Zhang Zhongjing, Chinese medicine-holy as the legend. On one Winter Solstice (22nd solar term), Zhang returned to his hometown from Changsha and found many poor people suffering from hunger and cold, even someone’s ears have frozen bad. With typhoid epidemic, many folks freeze to death. Zhang cooks mutton and some herbs on the pot and cuts them into pieces, wrapping with flour as ear-shaped “jiao’er”. They dispatch two and one soup for each folk to warm up and cure the badly frozen ears, dispelling cold.
Nuwa Made Man
One legend says Jiaozi marks the beginning of the heaven and the earth genesis and the ending of chaotic. Other legend says that Nuwa（the goodness makes man）makes man with earth and the earth man easily get ears frozen for cold weather. Nowa get their ears pierced , fixing with slim thread and make them bite the other end of the thread. The folks wrap the wheat flour into ear-shape with Xian (filling, same pronunciation with thread in Chinese) in memory of Nuwa’s great achievements.