Dongzhi, literally “the Extreme of Winter”, is the 22nd one of 24 solar terms each year, and marks the winter solstice. It always comes around December 22 in Gregorian calendar. The day is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chinese and other East Asians.
In China, Dongzhi was originally celebrated as an end-of-harvest festival. Today, it is observed with a family reunion over the long night, also named “Chinese Thanksgiving”. Family members get together to drink mellow wine, eat delicate food, visit friends and relatives, exchange presents and host memorial ceremony for ancestors and Gods.
In the northern China, eating dumplings and wontons on Dongzhi means gaining positive energy and getting rid of negative power. Red bean porridge is welcomed in Shaanxi since it is considered effective to avoid ghosts and epidemic disease.
In the Southern China, especially in Zhejiang and Jiangsu Province, tangyuan is no exception on this specific day. Each family member receives at least one large tangyuan in addition to several small ones. The flour balls may be plain or stuffed. Tangyuan with stuff is used to honor the ancestors at night ceremony while tangyuan without stuff used to worship Gods in the morning ceremony. Also, there is a tradition eating long noodles in the hope of long life.
About the origin of Winter Solstice Festival, please follow: