Chinese New Year, The Year of the Rooster, begins on Saturday Jan. 28th 2017, with festivities kicking off the day before New Year and continuing until the 15th day。 The Lunar New Year is the most important festival for Chinese people in mainland China and around the world. And eating dumplings is a Chinese New Year tradition for thousands of years. But have you ever heard of the stories behind the origin of dumplings?
The Story of Jiao-er
Dumplings, formerly known as “Jiaoer” (translates directly as charming ear)
According to legends, it was invented by the Chinese medical sage Zhang Zhongjing. In the last years of the Eastern Han Dynasty, plagues were prevalent, many people were affected by severe diseases
Zhang Zhongjing was a famous doctor who possessed exceptional skills of healing. He had the power to cure any diseases he got his hands on.
Moreover, because of his noble ethics, he would dedicate himself to every one of his patients, regardless if they were poor or rich.
After he was relieved from his position, he returned to his hometown. As he was walking along the White Rriver shoreline, he saw countless people suffering from hunger and their ears were frostbitten in cold weather. He was very afflictive, and resolved to cure them
After he arrived home, there were so many people coming to him for medical attention that kept him extremely busy. However, he couldn’t not get out if his mind images of those poor people with frostbitten ears.
So he asked his student to set up a tent on a vacant land along with a giant cauldron. Since the winter solstice, they had been offering medicines to the poor.
The name of Zhang Zhongjing’s concoction was “cold dispelling Jiaoer soup”
He put mutton, pepper along with a variety of cold dispelling drugs into a pot and start boiling. After it is done, he fished out the solid part and mince it up. And next he made ear shaped “Charming Ears” as the outer layer for the stuffing using oatmeal, then boil them again in the pot
Every patient was allocated with two “Charming Ears” and a bowl of soup. After people had the soup, they begun to feel warmth on their body, their blood circulations sped up, in turn warmed up their ears. After a further while,their ears were entirely cured.
Zhang Zhongjing’s act of kindness to give out medicine lasted all the way till Chinese New Year’s Eve.
So, ever since then, when it’s New Year’s Eve, in order to celebrate New Year’s day and the recovery of their ears, people would prepare food that emulated the appearance of charming ears for the new year. And had it in the morning of the first day into the year.
The food that emulated the charming ear was dumpling.
The Story of Nuwa
There are many other interesting tales about the traditions to eat dumplings on New Year’s Day. One of which is related to NuWa’s creation of Humans.
NuWa created humans with mud.
When it’s wintertime humans’ ears would fall off easily because of the frostbite. So, NuWa came up with a solution. She threaded strings through human ears, and had a person bite one end of it. That prevented the ears from falling off due to cold weather
Subsequently, every time when it’s freezing at the end of every year, people would bite the “charming ears” with thread, which are precisely dumplings stuffed with fillings.