Happy Dongzhi! Celebrating the winter solstice in China

WildChina > WildChina > Happy Dongzhi! Celebrating the winter solstice in China
Tangyuan, or balls made from sticky rice flour are a popular food to celebrate the winter solstice.

As we look forward to a gradual lengthening of daylight and the eventual arrival of summer, WildChina wishes a happy winter solstice to our friends around the world.

The shortest day of 2020 is recorded today, December 21.

The Chinese festival marking the day is called Dongzhi—literally, “the arrival of winter”—and has traditionally been a time for families to gather together for meals and to honor their ancestors.

Therefore, visitors to northern parts of China during Dongzhi may end up joining a local family for a meal of hearty boiled dumplings. If they are in the southern part of the country, they will more likely eat balls of sticky rice that are called tangyuan and are served in a sweet or savory broth.

In both areas one might run into bowls of slightly sweet and mildly alcoholic fermented sticky rice named jiuniang.

These warming, carbohydrate-rich traditional Dongzhi foods make sense not just because of chilliness and lack of sunlight, but also because many Chinese people will spend at least part of the day outside making offerings or visiting the tombs of their ancestors.

As during other festival times, it is common to see locals burning fake paper money on the street, which is symbolically intended for use by the deceased in the afterlife.

Many urban families also venture from the city out to the countryside to visit the graves of their ancestors for some tidying and to burn incense and perhaps leave some small portions of food.

Thought it may be the shortest day of the year and chilly in many parts of the country, there are still plenty of great places to visit in China during the holiday season. In fact, this is one of the best times to visit warmer southern areas whose low latitude bestows them with longer daylight.

The expected high temperature today in Jinghong, capital of the Xishuangbanna region of Yunnan, a popular WildChina destination, is 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celcius). Happy Dongzhi and we hope to see you soon.

Image credit: 5Q Blog

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