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The Winter Solstice Festival   

dumplings on winter solsticeThe winter Solstice Festival or Dongzhi is one of the most celebrated traditional festivals for Chinese and Asian people. It always comes around December 22 in Gregorian calendar.

The origin of winter solstice could be traced back to Yin and Young philosophy and balance in cosmos. Ancient Chinese believed that after this day, the day become longer and positive energy increased which resulted from the Yang's increasing while night become shorter with Yin's decreasing. As early as 2,500 years ago, Chinese people had determined the point of winter solstice by observing movements of sun with sundial. It is the earliest solar term set by people. In the Northern hemisphere today is the shortest daytime and longest nighttime of the year.

The Winter Solstice was first celebrated during Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), and people regarded it as "Winter Festival". Officials would organize celebrations and have a rest, while ordinary spend the day with their relatives and presenting delicious food. Stores and other business closed even army stationed in. In Tang and Song Dynasty, scarifies were offered to heaven and ancestors and other deceased relatives, Emperors would worship the Heaven. In Qing Dynasty, people take it as formal as the Spring Festival.

Winter Solstice is also a time for family getting together, especially for families in southern China or overseas Chinese. They would have a meal made of red-bean and glutinous rice to drive away ghosts and other evil things, in other parts of Southern China, people would make and eat Tangyuan, a kind of dumpling made of glutinous symbolizing family reunion. It could be used to sacrifices to ancestors or be the gift to relatives and friends. In northern China, people eat dumpling soup. The Taiwan people make cakes in shape of chicken, pig, cow or sheep, all are signifying the auspiciousness in Chinese culture.


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