Dongzhi Festival Date in the current year: December 21, 2016

Dongzhi Festival In East Asia, winter solstice is celebrated with a traditional Chinese festival known as the Dongzhi Festival. It is observed in many East Asian countries, but only Macau recognizes Dongzhi as a public holiday.

The Dongzhi Festival is celebrated on the shortest day of the year. Its origins can be traced back to the ancient yin and yang philosophy of the cosmic balance and harmony between two opposites. The Winter Solstice Festival is a time for family get-togethers.

One of the festival's traditions is cooking and eating of tangyan, small balls made of glutinous rice. They are considered to be a symbol of reunion because their name is a homophone for the Chinese word for “union”. Tangyan are typically served as a dessert, they can be plain or stuffed with sesame, sweet been paste, tangerine peel, etc. In northern Chine, people also eat savory dumplings on Dongzhi.

In Taiwan, people use the festive food as an offering to the deceased ancestors. The Taiwanese also have a unique custom of making nine-layer animal-shaped cakes as a ceremonial sacrifice to honor the ancestors. The most common shapes are a chicken, cow, pig, sheep, duck, or tortoise. All these animals are associated with auspiciousness in Chinese tradition.

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Cultural Observances, Folk Festivals


Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Macau


Dongzhi Festival, folk festival, cultural observance, Chinese festival, public holidays in Macau