Winter Solstice is called 冬至 [Dong Zhì] in Mandarin Chinese. 冬 [Dong] mean winter. 至 [Zhi] means extreme, or arrival. 冬至 [Dong Zhì] literally means the “extreme of winter”. Dong Zhi is also known as Winter Festival – 冬節[Dong Jié] for Chinese. Dong Zhi marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the coldest day in winter according to the Chinese calendar. This is also the day that your shadow measures the longest under the sun. 冬至 Dong Zhi Festival always falls on or around December 22. This year (2014) it falls on December 22.
In ancient China, Dong Zhi used to be the first day of the first month on the calendar, the New Year’s day. Even though it was changed by Emperor Qin (秦始皇), people still kept the tradition. Therefore, Dong Zhi Festival is also known as “the little New Year’s day” 過小年.
Dong Zhi festival is a day for family reunion, a day to worship the ancestors, and a day to eat some traditional food. In northern China, people will eat dumplings – shuǐ jiǎo [水餃] and lamb – yáng ròu [羊肉] to keep warm. In southern China and Taiwan, people will eat Tang Yuán [湯圓], the glutinous rice balls. Tang Yuán [湯圓] – Tang 湯 = soup; Yuán 圓 = round. Tang Yuán sounds like “Tuán Yuán [團圓]” that means “reunion”. Therefore, Tang Yuán [湯圓] is the food with a symbolic meaning of family reunion. During the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration Tang Yuán [湯圓] is called Yuán Xiāo [元宵].
There is a saying about Dong Zhi, that is when you eat Tang Yuán [湯圓] on Dong Zhì you are one year older. So for children, that means they need to behave more mature.
Listed below is Miss Panda’s video learning resource collection on Dong Zhi Winter Festival. Have fun learning about Dong Zhi Winter Festival!
Music Video: A Song for Dong Zhi Winter Festival with simplified Chinese subtitle.
Recipe Video: Making Tang Yuan for Dong Zhi Winter Festival in English.
Video: Best Tang Yuen for Dong Zhi Festival in Taiwan in Mandarin Chinese.
Video: The Origin of Dong Zhi and activities in Mandarin Chinese with traditional Chinese subtitle.
Video: The Story of Dong Zhi in Mandarin Chinese with simplified Chinese subtitle.
In addition to China and Taiwan, Dong Zhi festival is also observed in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.
Happy Dong Zhi Winter Festival!
Author: Amanda Hsiung Blodgett ©2014-2016 Miss Panda Chinese
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Amanda “Miss Panda” is the founder of Miss Panda Chinese and author of the "Let's Learn Mandarin Chinese with Miss Panda!" CD/MP3 audio program. Amanda is a dynamic language instructor with over 15 years language teaching experience. She created Miss Panda Chinese to share teaching materials that she has developed and used in the classroom and at home with parents and teachers who are also on the exciting bilingual education journey.
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