How to Celebrate the Dongzhi Festival

How to Celebrate the Dongzhi Festival

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The Dongzhi Festival, also referred to as the Winter Solstice Festival, celebrates the season’s turning point toward the warmer, lighter days of spring. It’s a time during the depths of winter to enjoy a hearty, fortifying family meal that raises hopes for spring’s arrival.

Dongzhi Festival

Mark Your Calendars
Dongzhi Festival 2017 is December 21, 2017. It takes place every year on December 21 or 22.

Here’s a simple guide to a holiday that’s all about helping you warm up during the bitterly cold winter months.

red-lanternThe Basics

To really get a feel for the Dongzhi Festival, you have to imagine hard, rural living during a gray Han Dynasty winter more than 2,000 years ago. Now picture a family meal at a table set with hearty, warming foods, raising the hopes for spring’s arrival. That’s the spirit of the Dongzhi Festival.

The Dongzhi Festival marries the winter solstice with nature’s harmonious balance of yin and yang energy. From this point forward, dongzhi (i.e. the extreme of winter) and the negative yin qualities of darkness and cold give way to the positive yang qualities of light and warmth. In other words, take heart — spring will come.

red-lanternDongzhi Festival Traditions

Traditionally, the Dongzhi Festival was a day to regroup with a family get together before tackling the last leg of winter. Today, with survival less of a daily concern and no time off granted, the Dongzhi Festival is celebrated mostly with a family meal full of warm, hearty foods.

How to Make Tang Yuan

How to Make Tang Yuan

In southern China, people eat these round glutinous rice balls filled with sweet sesame or red bean paste which symbolize family togetherness and reunion. Serve each family member one large tang yuan and several small ones together in a ginger broth. Read More »

How to Make Lamb Dumplings

How to Make Lamb Dumplings

In northern China, people eat lamb dumplings for the Dongzhi Festival, a tribute to the Han Dynasty physician, Zhang Zhongjing, who served this warming food to poor farmers suffering from frostbite during one particularly cold winter. Read More »

red-lanternWhen is the Dongzhi Festival?

The Dongzhi Festival takes place every year on December 21 or 22. There is no time off granted for the Dongzhi Festival.

Dongzhi Festival dates through 2026 are below.

2015December 22
2016December 21
2017December 21
2018December 21
2019December 22
2020December 21
2021December 21
2022December 21
2023December 22
2024December 21
2025December 21
2026December 21

Your turn! Do you have any other questions about celebrating the Dongzhi Festival? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

HT: Photo by Life Is In The Small Things.

6 Responses

  1. How fun! I have never heard of this holiday before, it would be a nice way to slow down before Christmas.

    • Hey Nicole,
      Yes, it’s definitely a fun one, all about cold weather and the winter solstice. Makes a lot of sense here in the States, too, where having something sweet bubbling on the stove when it’s cold outside is a familiar occasion. I’m going to post a tutorial on making tang yuan in the next couple of weeks. Hope it’s helpful!

  2. This was such a helpful and organized overview! Thank you for putting this together!

    • Quite welcome, Betty, thanks for stopping in. Checked out your site — very cool! ~Wes

  3. Do they share presents with each other too?

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