Winter Solstice - a Chinese Celebration

It's that time of year where Chinese families gather for harmony and to celebrate the arrival winter. Read on to learn more about this day!


What is Winter Solstice?


The traditional Chinese lunar calendar divides the year into 24 solar terms. Winter Solstice is the 22nd solar term of the year.


Falling in the 11th month of the lunar calendar, either on December 21, 22 or 23 of the Gregorian calendar depending on the year, this day marks the arrival of winter and also is one of the most significant festivals for Chinese.


The winter solstice is the shortest day, or the longest night of the year.


Why is it important to Chinese?


Since the Han dynasty, winter solstice has been celebrated by the Chinese with a festival named 冬至 (dungzi in Cantonese, dongzhi in Mandarin), which literally translates into “arrival of winter” / “winter’s peak”.


The origins of this festival can be traced back to the yin and yang philosophy of balance and harmony in life.


To some, traditionally, the winter solstice festival signified the time when farmers and fishermen had to start preparing for the colder months ahead.


The cold, dark qualities of yin are believed to be at their strongest on the longest night of the year, but once the winter solstice passes, the warmth and light of yang will begin to flourish as daylight hours lengthen once again.

What do we do on Winter Solstice?


Chinese take the chance to gather with family and have dishes symbolising togetherness. It is a time for family harmony and get-togethers.

After the grand reunion dinner, we prepare "Tangyuan", which are glutinous rice balls cooked in sweet soup that symbolizes reunion.

Do you or your culture celebrate Winter Solstice too? Share with us!


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YiLi International Etiquette (YiLi) is Hong Kong's first boutique finishing school offering Western & Chinese etiquette courses.

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