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Chinese traditional custom: Winter Solstice

Time:2012-12-21   Source:CCTV.com

In China, the Winter Solstice became a festival during the Han Dynasty some 2000 years ago. Since ancient times, it has been regarded as significant as the Spring Festival.

Zhao Shu, BJ Research Inst. of Culture & History, sid, "Han people called the day "Winter Festival". It is a big day for agricultural countries like China because it marks the changing of the season. Ancient Chinese people regarded it the beginning of a year."

Winter Solstice is the first day of winter, which lasts three months. Its seasonal significance is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days. Interpretations of the day vary from culture to culture, but most recognize it to be a time of rebirth involving some type of holiday, festival, gathering, or ritual.

Family reunions are a must for the Winter Solstice. In Northern China, people eat dumplings or noodles, and say that doing so will keep them from freezing in the upcoming winter. While the traditions in South China are to make and eat Tang Yuan, a kind of stuffed ball made of glutinous rice flour. The shapes and fillings of the snack vary, and indicate an homage to ancestors and also greetings for a prosperous future.

Source: CCTV.com