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« Back to articles from category "Culture"

The following article was published in our article directory on April 27, 2010.
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The Tang Yuan Festival

Article Category: Culture

Author Name: Henry Fong

In the olden days the Chinese people celebrate Dong Zhi (Winter Solstice Festival) much like Chinese Lunar New Year by visiting relatives and friends. There is the usual feasting and businesses will take a break on that day. On this day, people will gather around to eat "tang yuan" (glutinous floor balls) which is symbolic of family unity and harmony.

How do you define the winter solstice?

A solstice is an astronomical term used to describe the day of the year when the sun is the greatest distance from our equator. There are two solstices, therefore, one in the summer and one in the winter each causing either the longest or shortest day of the year. The times of these vary, however, depending on which hemisphere you are discussing.

A solstice is created when the earth tilts away from the sun for a particular hemisphere. While the earth is orbiting around the sun, it is also spinning on its axis. This tilting results in one hemisphere being nearer to the sun, causing the summer while the adjacent hemisphere is further away, causing the winter.

The word "solstice" finds its roots in the Latin term, "solstitium." They created the term solstitium from sol which translates as the sun and stitium which translates as stop. The sun seems to do this during the solstice. It reaches nearly the exact elevation daily at 12:00 pm for a few days before and following the solstice.

The winter solstice for the northern hemisphere occurs on one of two dates: December 21st or 22nd every year and the sun will be shinning directly over the tropic of Capricorn. June 20th or 21st is the winter solstice for the southern hemisphere, which occurs when the sun is shinning directly over the tropic of Cancer.

The winter solstice marks the day of the year that has the shortest amount of daylight and the longest amount of night. This is the midpoint of winter for many culture's calendars. Amazingly, in over three thousand years, the date of solstice has been moved by only a single day.

A lot of older civilizations observed the winter solstice as a period of being reborn, because the sun looks like it is regenerated and the daylight lasts longer.

This was frequently thought of as a blessed transformation with the removal of evil from the earth since the darkness is considered evil, and this was overcome by the light which is considered to be good. Currently, celebrations of light are still observed by some cultures. As well as the Chinese Dong Zhi festival, the Germanic society observes Yule and the Hindus observe Diwali, a festival of light.

About the Author: Henry Fong is a Feng Shui Consultant. To find out more on Chinese Dates, visit his web site at

Keywords: winter solstice

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