Winter Solstice falls between the period of December 21 to December 23. This year, it is on December 21. One this day, the day is the shortest and night is the longest in the year.
After this day, many places in China go through the coldest period, which is called in Chinese “shǔ jiǔ”. In total, there are nine periods with nine days for each. In the first and second nine days, people keep their hands in pockets; in the third and fourth nine days, people can walk on the ice; in the fifth and sixth nice days, people can see willows along the river bank; in the seventh and eighth nine days, the swallow comes back and in the ninth nine days, cattle start working.
美食习俗 Food Customs
Winter Solstice is not only a solar term but an important festival. Here are some traditional foods for Winter Solstice.
China has developed a unique festive food culture throughout the years. Eating dumplings is a common folk custom for many Chinese on the day of winter solstice, especially those living in the north.
People in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, are accustomed to eating wonton on Winter Solstice. According to legend, during the midwinter feast 2,500 years ago, the King of Wu was disgusted with all kinds of costly food and wanted to eat something different. Then, the beauty Xishi came into the kitchen to make "wonton" to honor the king's wish. He ate a lot and liked the food very much. To commemorate Xishi, the people of Suzhou made wonton the official food to celebrate the festival.
吃羊肉粉汤Eating Mutton and Vermicelli Soup
In Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, people call Winter Solstice the "Ghost Festival". On that day, it is customary for people there to eat mutton and vermicelli soup and eat the dumplings in the soup. They give the Winter Solstice soup a strange name: "Brain" and share it with their neighbors.
吃年糕Eating Rice Cakes
During the Winter Solstice, Hangzhou residents traditionally eat rice cakes. In the past, before the approach of the Winter Solstice, every household would make the cakes to worship their ancestors or use as gifts for relatives and friends.