West celebrates Christmas and China celebrates Winter Solstice!

1st breakfast - dumpling

West celebrates Christmas and China celebrates Winter Solstice! Some people even talk about “Chinese Thanksgiving”. If you are living in Beijing and you don’t want your ears to get frozen, then you should read this article. 

Unfortunately, there is no national holiday for the Winter Solstice festival, but an old saying from South China says “Winter solstice is no less important than the Spring Festival”. Ask around your colleagues in the office, they will probably tell you that indeed, they will celebrate the festival at home in Beijing with their family.

ZhangzhongjingAccording to a Chinese legend, one day of a cold winter, a famous doctor of the Han dynasty, Zhang Zhongjing, found some people freezing and starving on the street, with terrible wounds in the ears. So, he decided to cook for them the Jiao Er, a special food with ear shape filled with medicine and other ingredients.  Thanks to this doctor, people recovered soon and the Chinese learnt how to prepare the dumplings that nowadays are so widespread and famous all over the world. Since the dumplings have ear shape, the Chinese still believe that if you don’t eat dumplings on the winter solstice, your ears can get frozen.

In Chinese called 冬至, the winter solstice has become a Chinese festival since the Han dynasty, it is celebrated every year at 22 or 23 of December, and in China it is an opportunity to eat dumplings and stay with the family, talking about the winter, teaching the winter solstice legend to children or novices to Chinese traditions that maybe are unaware of the reason why dumpling restaurants in Beijing are full of people on that day!

 

p414_d20111222111421In addition, as we all know, the winter solstice is a also a way to breathe a sigh of relief considering that this is the day of the year with the shortest daytime and the longest nighttime, since this time on, it can only get better! In fact, according to Chinese tradition, after the winter solstice festival there will be 9 periods of 9 days, in total 81 days (in Chinese called 数九shujiu) that are considered the coldest one, after which the weather gets warmer until the arrival of the spring!

Some poems and popular songs suggest people 5 things to do and not do during the 9 periods : during the first and second day you should  protect your hands from cold wind, if you want to walk on ice you can only do it  during the third and fourth day, during the fifth and sixth day you can sit by the river and look at the sprouting willows and wait until the seventh day when the rivers begin to unfreeze, the eight day enjoy the sight of swallows and the ninth day the farmers begin to wait for their harvest.

So, let’s start the counting down! Now there are only 80 days left!

 

Sources:

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/food/2012-12/22/content_16042977.htm

http://traditions.cultural-china.com/en/14Traditions349.html

http://www.travelchinaguide.com/essential/holidays/winter-solstice.htm

 

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I am living in China since 2007. I am sharing my experiences for other expatriates to make their stay in Beijing more enjoyable. As I am writing this blog for SCOUT Real Estate agency, I am also computing updates about the Real Estate market in Beijing, not only on residential properties, but as well on commercial locals and offices. Hope you enjoy your reading!