8 Things You Should Know About The Winter Solstice

The Chinese have been celebrating Dong Zhi (winter solstice) for centuries. Reunion dinners and making dumplings are still a huge part of the festival for Chinese folks today, but how many of us still remember why and how this festival came about?

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  1.  The winter solstice only became a festival during the Han Dynasty

During the Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD), officials, army men, and common folk would take rest during the winter solstice. Businesses would also cease operation, relatives and friends would gather to celebrate this “Winter Festival”. Zhang, who was once an official of Changsa, returned home one winter to find that people were having a tough time surviving the season. Together with his disciples, fed people with mutton cooked in medicine and hot peppers as a way to comfort the people and to cure their frostbitten ears.


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  1. An increase in positive energy

The Chinese celebrate the winter solstice because it has long days and short nights. This, according to the Chinese, encourages positive energy. The sun brings life to the earth and sunrise indicates the start of every day. It is the ultimate power source for Earth. This is one of the reasons why the winter solstice is regarded as an auspicious day to celebrate.


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  1. A Traditional Chinese Festival

It is a tradition for the Chinese to celebrate the winter solstice every year with a family feast. This festival is considered as the most important festival in the Chinese culture. It is even more significant than the Chinese new year! However, the Chinese are not the only people who celebrate this festival. Toji, in Japan, is celebrated with Yuzuyu (a citrus hot bath), Onsen (the Japanese Hot Spring) and Kabocah (squash). Some of the Korean traditions of Dongji are eating patjuk (red bean porridge), giving calendars as gifts to others, and sprinkling red beans around ones home will keep away evil spirits.


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  1. The Circle

Since the circle has no end, the Chinese regard the shape as a symbolism of unity and reunion among family members, relatives and friends. It is embedded in the Chinese culture to own and feast on a circular dining table. Apart from that, the circle also represents harmony and the balance of Yin and Yang, making it an essential part of Chinese philosophy.

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  1. Dumplings
    Dumplings are a must-have during the winter solstice. In Northern China, people would eat dumplings cooked in soup; while in South China, sweet dumplings and Tsampa are more popular.  The warmth of the soup soothes and comforts the body during harsh winter conditions. In the olden days, the Chinese would eat dumplings believing that it would prevent their ears from being frostbitten as the dumplings looked like human ears.


Unlike the Chinese new year, there are no taboos associated with this festival, but this doesn’t mean that you should disregard traditions like cleaning and tidying up the house before having friends and family over for a feast. Your utensils, cooking equipment and plates should be cleaned thoroughly to prevent anyone from waking up with a bad stomach the next morning. Children might also leave stains from spills on your floor, carpets or couches. It’s better to rid your home of grime and grease as soon as possible before the new year. If you need extra help with cleaning, our experts are always ready to help!