Happy Winter Solstice everyone!

For my fellow non-chinese friends, the following is picked from Wikipedia so you’ll understand more about celebrating Winter Solstice as much as I do. (“o)


Dongzhi Festival

The Dōngzhì Festival or Winter Solstice Festival (Chinese: 冬至; pinyin: Dōngzhì; literally: “the arrival of winter”) is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chinese and other East Asians during the Dongzhi solar term (winter solstice) on or around December 22 (according to East Asia time).[1][2]

The origins of this festival can be traced back to the yin and yang philosophy of balance and harmony in the cosmos.[3] After this celebration, there will be days with longer daylight hours and therefore an increase in positive energy flowing in. The philosophical significance of this is symbolized by the I Ching hexagram (復, “Returning”).

Traditionally, the Dongzhi Festival is also a time for the family to get together. One activity that occurs during these get-togethers (especially in the southern parts of China and in Chinese communities overseas) is the making and eating of tangyuan (湯圓) or balls of glutinous rice, which symbolize reunion.[4] Tangyuan are made of glutinous rice flour and sometimes brightly coloured. Each family member receives at least one large tangyuan in addition to several small ones. The flour balls may be plain or stuffed. They are cooked in a sweet soup or savory broth with both the ball and the soup/broth served in one bowl. It is also often served with a mildly alcoholic unfiltered rice wine containing whole grains of glutinous rice (and often also Sweet Osmanthus flowers), called jiuniang.[5]

In northern China, people typically eat dumplings on Dongzhi. It is said to have originated from Zhang Zhongjing in the Han Dynasty. On one cold winter day, he saw the poor suffering from chilblains on their ears. Feeling sympathetic, he ordered his apprentices to make dumplings with lamb and other ingredients, and distribute them among the poor to keep them warm, to keep their ears from getting chilblains. Since the dumplings were shaped like ears, Zhang named the dish “qùhán jiāoěr tāng” (祛寒嬌耳湯) or dumpling soup that expels the cold. From that time on, it has been a tradition to eat dumplings on the day of Dongzhi.

Old traditions also require people with the same surname or from the same clan to gather at their ancestral temples to worship on this day. There is always a grand reunion dinner following the sacrificial ceremony.

The festive food is also a reminder that celebrators are now a year older and should behave better in the coming year. Even today, many Chinese around the world, especially the elderly, still insist that one is “a year older” right after the Dongzhi celebration instead of waiting for the lunar new year.

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