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Dong Zhi / Winter Solstice / 冬至

Dong Zhi / Winter Solstice / 冬至.

Dong Zhi (winter solstice) will soon arrive. and during this time, chinese family members would sit down together to consume Tang Yuan / 湯圓. Tang Yuan which symbolise reunion is made from glutinous flour which are roll into the shape of a small rice ball about half an inch or larger. They are then cook and serve in bowls along with sweet soup. Sometimes colouring is also added during the making process. This makes the cooked glutinous rice balls looks more attractive to Kids.

Commonly known as the Winter Solstice Festival, it is the 22nd term of the 24 solar terms in the Chinese calendar. It falls on 21st or 22nd December each year and it is a Festival celebrated all over the world by many culture. On the day of winter solstice, the chinese would get up early in the morning to prepare rice balls or dumpling, fruits, joss offering to worship the house hold deity. On this day, they would also perform cultural ceremonies, offering to heaven, offering to their ancestor, giving donations, celebrating the end of harvest festival and also gather for reunion. This is also a day to perform prayers to prevent diseases and to drive out evil spirits. In the olden times, Chinese emperors would visit the Temple of Heaven to worship and offer sacrifices to Heaven on this day.

Recorded in ancient books, it is said that on this day, the Yin energy will be very strong while the Yang energy will be growing and begins its new cycle. It will have the shortest daylight and the longest night of the year. After this day, sunlight will become longer, Yang energy will become stronger while yin energy becomes weaker.

The winter festival is a traditional chinese festival. Historically, the Winter solstice I can be trace back to the time of Xia dynasty. The culture was follow during through the Zhou dynasty. During this time, the Zhou’s would consider the winter solstice as a new year. This practice was follow by the Qin dynasty till the Han dynasty. It was then that the Han’s Winter Solstice became a Winter Festival. Government officials and commoners would have an official holiday to celebrate this day. People during the Southern and Northern Dynasties still consider the Winter solstice as the first date of a new year. During the Tang and Song dynasty, the winter solstice has became a day for remembering ancestors and offer sacrifice to Heaven. And on this day, the emperor would visit the Temple of Heaven to worship and offer sacrifice to Heaven. Records from the Qing Dynasty has stated that Winter Solstice is significantly as important as the Spring festival aka Li Chun.

The custom varies in china, The northerners would also consume dumplings on this day while the majority of the local people would just consume rice ball aka Tang Yuan / 湯圓.
There is also traditional custom to take the rice ball after offering to the house altar and paste it on the front and back door of the house. This is said to serve as a talisman to protect the family members for evil and disease.

Other activities done during winter festival includes the custom of “sending/giving winter clothing” and also to visit ancestors grave to perform offering. The meaning of “sending/giving winter clothing” has two representation. One for the human on earth and another for the Spirits of the otherworld. Sending/giving a friend or loved one some winter clothing would mean that you care for them as it is cold during this time of the year (China).

For the Spirits of the otherworld, Paper winter clothing would be offer to ancestors/spirits. There is a believe that the human lives in the human world while the dead lives parallel on the otherworld. It is said that when a person dies, its spirit/soul would leave the body and it would exist in the otherworld. These spirits would have different needs during different seasons. So during the Winter solstice, the spirits would be cold. To visit the grave this time is also a show of respect/filial to the ancestors.

A Legend from Henan says that on winter solstice, King Yama would allow spirits free to roam earth for a day. And when the time arrive he would send them back to the otherworld. So people on this day would pray to King Yama to request him to move all the spirits/ghost back to the otherworld so earth will be tranquil and peaceful. Offerings are also burned for the spirits to use when they return to the otherworld.

In certain part of Jiangnan, China, a special customs is followed where people take the opportunity to arrange a second burial for their ancestor from a coffin burial to an urn burial.
They would exhume their ancestors coffin and burn the coffin’s wood in the night. The remains of their ancestors are then place into an Urn. The Urn is then reburied. This custom is known as Dang Tian Wei / 當天為 also known as Guan Cai Tian / 棺材天.

During DongZhi, there is a game that uses rice ball for divination. This divination is to determine the gender of a future baby. The person who wish to enquire would first have make some glutinous rice balls. A fire in then build. The rice balls is then thrown into the fire. If the rice ball expand without any crack then it is predicted a baby boy is on the way and if the ball expand but cracked then a coming baby girl is predicted.

Do view my other post on “Auspicious Dates for Chinese New Year” which is posted yearly to get the date and time of the annual Dong Zhi / Winter Solstice / 冬至.

冬至.

冬至即將到來。在這段時間內,中华民族传统节日会和家人坐在一起吃湯圆,湯圆代表著團圆團聚意识。
湯圆是用糯米粉擀成圆形狀在製作過程中也可以添加顔色料然後在拿去煮成甜湯圆,七彩宾芬湯圆可以更具吸引小孩子。

俗稱的冬至節。大约每年英歴12月21日至22日之间,在冬至這天一大清早起身,准備湯圓、水果和祭品. 祭天、祭祖先、慶团圆、駆邪防災的節日. 很久以前古代皇帝会在冬至那天前往天坛聖殿祭天仪式祀求平安。
書本里記錄古人對冬至說法是:陰極之至,陽氣始生,日南至,日短之至,日影長之至,故日冬至意識是說這一天,白天會最短、黑夜會最長的一天,過了冬至、白天就會开始變正常。

冬至是中华民族的傳統節日。在歷史记录中冬至追从夏朝时代的時間。在周朝时代期間冬至文化华族會当成是新的一年。漢朝时期冬至以成為官員和人民百姓的日子,將会在这天節日來慶祝。在南北朝的人仍然認為冬至作為新一年的新开始。在唐宋時代冬至已成為祭天和祭祖先的日子。在冬至這一天皇帝也会到天坛天举办祭天仪式祀求国泰民安。在清朝时代有記錄表示冬至是重要节日,和新年立春节日一样重要。

冬至作為冬季的開始,在中國地區居住的話,北方人会在冬至吃餃子,在祀他国家华裔人民大多數只是吃湯圓.

在冬至吃湯圓有特别傳統的習俗,祭天戓祭祖先仪式完毕后將会拿湯圓來黏在家头大門口和后門口可以駆邪防災的做用,可以讓家人團圓平平安安。

冬至活動還有上山在祖先墳墓前燒纸衣冥錢,送寒衣等風俗。所謂送寒衣,意識是說為巳故的祖先送御寒的纸衣服,有人相信,人有人世,死人有鬼世。已故親人雖然軀體已經死亡,但是靈魂還在鬼世生存,在不同季節需要不同飲食、衣服、尤其秋盡冬來,鬼魂都會很怕冷的,所以才流行送寒衣,這是懷念祖先的一種表現。

河南地区有特别習俗傳說,認為冬至是地府閻王清明節,此時讓鬼魂出來走走放放風。過了這一天,閻王又会把鬼魂招回地府,稱为(收鬼)因此在冬至这一天会有拜祭地府閻王,祈求閻王把鬼魂招回地府,否則人間難以太平安寧。同時也会為鬼魂燒冥钱冥花。
江南地区有一種特殊的風俗,会在黑夜把袓先的朽棺燒掉,然後把遣骨移入陶瓮內,稱當天為(棺材天),只是利用這個機會舉行第二次葬礼,由土葬改為瓮棺葬。
冬至有一種湯圓占卜游戲,手先拿糯米做成圓圓的然後就生火烤,把湯圓放在火爐上,如湯圓脹而不裂宜生男孩、如湯圓脹而裂開則為生女之兆,由此看出人們將湯圓作為人的象徵,并且通過占卜方法,祈求生育。


Below:- Tang Yuan / 湯圓 ready to be serve.

Dong Zhi /  Winter Solstice / 冬至



My Time – my.72dragon.com – A web blog cataloging chinese temples in malaysia / 記錄馬來西亞廟宇文化.

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