Tuesday, December 18, 2007
The arrival of winter: Dong Zhi
Dong Zhi is the thanksgiving of the Chinese calendar. "Dong Zhi" literally means "arrival of winter". Coinciding with the winter solstice, it is an occasion for the family to get together to celebrate the good year they have had. Tang Yuan (ÌÀÔ²) is cooked and eaten to symbolise unity and harmony within the family. Dong Zhi occurs 6 weeks before Chinese New Year and would normally fall between 21st Dec and 23rd Dec.
Winter solstice signifies the beginning of winter. The sun is at the Tropic of Capricorn and this results in the longest night of the year for those living in the northern hemisphere. The festival began as a farmer's festival to celebrate year-end harvest.
Dong Zhi is a time for family reunion. Tang Yuan, sweet soup of glutinuous rice flour balls, is indispensible during this festival. "Yuan" (literally meaning "round") signifies "yuan man" (complete / Ô²Âú ) and Tang Yuan means "tuan yuan" (family reunion / ÍÅÔ² ). Eating Tang Yuan is symbolic of family unity and family prosperity.
For good luck, families prefer to have some pink tang yuan to mix with the white ones.