Although the Chinese have been celebrating the changing seasons for well over 2,500 years (since the famous Han Dynasty) a lot about this famous festival has changed with the modern times. Many of the old customs have drifted into obscurity, but families still take time off to relax and reconnect, sing songs and celebrate their heritage. Visitors can often see families gathered at temples giving offerings to the ancestors. Plus those with Chinese family or friends might even be able to join in on the Dongzhi parties and feasts. However, depending on where one is in the East, the festival could look a bit different.
Singaporeans celebrate by eating the traditional tangyuan, but dress it up with pandan leaves and ginger. Malaysian Chinese simply host friends and family for a meal, while Hong Kong citizens give gifts and dress up in new clothes. The Taiwanese show up everyone and steam nine-layer rice cakes in the shape of turtles, cows, ducks, etc and then eat themselves into food comas (literally, the practice is based on animal hibernation). Foodies, you may have just found Valhalla.
Happy Dongzhi, happy winter solstice festival!
Five things you might not have known about the Winter Solstice
A gathering for a winter solstice ritual to mark the shortest day's sunlight on Beacon Hill near Loughborough, central England, on Dec 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The Winter or December Solstice takes place here today, 22 Dec 2014, and is known as the longest night of the year, but that really depends on which part of the world you're in.
The longest night for the northern hemisphere is also the longest day - and peak of summer - for the southern hemisphere.
Here are some things to know about the Winter Solstice:
- From space: It's all about the tilt
- Back on Earth: Less sun, longer nights
- But Singapore is on the Equator, so is there really a lot of difference?
- Doesn't really matter, we still celebrate it
- This year's Winter Solstice is not the longest night ever
6 traditional foods for Dongzhi
Dongzhi or the Winter Solstice is celebrated by the Chinese as a day for family gatherings.
Traditionally, glutinous rice balls or tangyuan are served. However it is not all about the tangyuan.
People's Daily Online put together the six traditional foods for Dongzhi, which falls on Dec 22 this year.
The Singapore Daily
– Under The Angsana Tree: Dongzhi 冬至 (Winter Solstice Festival) 2015