In the Western calendar, the Winter Solstice falls on December 21 or December 22 when the night is longest and the day is shortest in the northern hemisphere.
The Dongzhi Festival is a traditional holiday still celebrated by some that has a long history and certain customs.
Chinese name: 冬至, Dōngzhì, literally: "the arrival of winter"
History of the Dongzhi Festival
The Winter Solstice Festival was held as early as the Spring and Autumn Period. During the reign of the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD), the holiday grew in importance. It was important during the Tang Dynasty and Song Dynasty when the emperors officially proscribed it as a day to worship and sacrifice to their god and to their ancestors. It has also been called the Changzhi Festival or Yashui.
In past imperial eras, the Winter Solstice Festival was more important, but now it remains a relatively important festival mainly in Southern China cities or Taiwan. In some regions of China, some families still gather together to eat a special meal, visit ancestral tombs, and worship their ancestors.
Northern China Customs
Historically on Dongzhi day, people went to the clan tombs to offer food and drink to their ancestor's spirits, clean the tombs, and work to maintain them. Then the Northern Chinese gathered in the evening afterwards for hot Jiaozi/dumplings and drinks.
People ate fatty dumplings that contained meat and vegetables, ginger and garlic. This helped the people stave off illness and disease and stay warm. It helped them adapt to the onset of winter and buoyed their mood during the coldest days of the year. And this is still a custom in northern China on the day of the winter solstice. But or the Southern Chinese, it is different
Southern China Customs
Some people in southern China and some Chinese in communities in Southeast Asia gather together to make and eat a meal of tangyuan. Tangyuan symbolizes family unity and prosperity.
These are specially cooked balls of rice that might have a filling of sweet sesame, sweet potato or peanut beans. These are usually black or white colored. Tangyuan is often served in a bowl with a sweet soup or even some eggs soup.
Nowadays, with more innovative material used in the Tangyuan, some with transparent outer layer by using glutinous rice flour, or using some fruit or meat filling.
For many Taiwanese and people of Taiwanese descent in other countries, the festival is still important. Families will go to the ancestral tombs and have meals of tangyuan, and they might offer tangyuan to the spirits at the tombs.
They also have a custom of offering nine-layer cakes to their ancestors. The cakes are made of rice flour and are shaped like animals such as chickens, ducks, tortoises, pigs, cows, and sheep.
According to traditional Chinese medical concepts, winter is the time of year it is important to rest, relax and nourish the body with high yang fatty foods.
Chinese follow the behavior of animals that hibernate during winter to rejuvenate and preserve their bodies. So they rest on the day if they can, eat foods containing ginger, and enjoy ginseng and similar high yang herbs that can restore and relax the nerves and alleviate stress.
In ELIYA hotel linen suppliers, we celebrated Dongzhi Day by Northern Customs, as our factory is located in Guangzhou city which is 20-30mins away from the Canton Fair. We hope to share these warmest wishes and happiness with all of you!