Winter Solstice for Year 2016
Time flies and Time passes, its again the end period of a Lunar Year and so, All Taoists and Chinese will be preparing to celebrate the Winter Solstice Festival aka Dong Zhi Day.
For Year 2016, Dong Zhi Day aka Winter Solstice falls on 21 Dec, a Wednesday, starting time at 18:46 Hours.
So what is Winter Solstice?
According to Scientific Explanation, Winter Solstice is a Day of the starting of the change of the Weather and also the Sun-shining duration for both the North & South Hemisphere (南北半球).
And so, from this Day onwards, the Sun-shine Duration for the North Hemisphere will be shorter and vice-versa for the South Hemisphere.
And this is why, in one of our Old Hokkien Saying, for those Lazy Ladies who are not able to wake up early in the Morning, she wont be able to finish her chores in A Day.
So what Winter Solstice means in Chinese Custom?
In Chinese Custom, Winter Solstice Festival will be the Day for the Chinese to celebrate their Harvesting of the Year and also to have a Reunion Gathering with the Family Members.
Besides that, Taoists and Chinese will have to pay respect to Deities & Ancestors, returning the Gratitude to them for the necessary Blessings for the Year.
In Taoist Records, this is a Day that Taoists will visit Temples to pay respect to Deities in-order to request for Blessings and also, the eliminating of debts and sins. In some Big Taoist Temples, Priests will conduct Rituals/Ceremonies for Taoists and other Followers to participate in.
So what are the Traditional Items that are associated with Winter Solstice Festival?
In Ancient Era, the Chinese will prepared Buns, Pastry, etc, to celebrate whereas in Summer Period, Chinese will prepare Noodles for the Celebration.
After a certain period, Chinese changed they habit of eating Buns & Pastry to eating of Sweet Dumplings aka Tang Yuan (湯圓).
Tang Yuan, shape in Round or Ball, represent Reunion, Happiness and Full. This does not only represent Reunion for the Family but also, represent having a Nice Round-off for the Years’ Harvesting.
Till today, the Chinese still practice the consuming of Tang Yuan to get the Blessing of Reunion and Happiness.
So how and what to prepare for the Honouring of Deities and Ancestors?
For those who have Altars, dedicating to Deities and Ancestors, at home, remember to wake up early in the Morning to prepare the Tang Yuan aka Ee.
Nowadays, due to busy working life of the Modern Adults, Tang Yuan can be brought from Supermarket in Ready-made packing. Oneself just need to get a little bundle of Pandan Leaves and a pack of Red/Brown sugar and the cooking of Tang Yuan will be able to take place.
After the cooking is ready, scoop the Tang Yuan into 3 Bowls for offering to the Deities and at least 2 Bowls for the Ancestors (1 bowl for Male Ancestors and other for Female Ancestors).
Remember to prepare some Paper Offerings such as Tian Gong Jin (天公金) and Shou Jin (壽金) for Deities, Gold & Silver Papers (金銀紙) for Ancestors.
Wait for about 15 minutes; send off the Paper Offerings for the Deities and after 3 rounds of Offering Incenses to Ancestors, the Gold & Silver Papers can be sent off.
Usually after the Offering, the Tang Yuan can be retrieved back and distributed out to the Family Members for eating. Do not throw them away, cos All consuming items on Dong Zhi Day cannot be waste.
In order not to left the Altar empty, after retrieving the Tang Yuan from the Altar, oneself can prepared a set of Five Oranges to replace the Tang Yuan.
Dong Zhi Da Guo Nian (冬至大過年)
In Chinese, we have a Saying of Dong Zhi Da Guo Nian (冬至大過年), meaning that, Dong Zhi Day is a Day that worth Celebrating and this Celebrating must be as Grand as the Celebration of Lunar New Year.
Why is there such a practice?
According to Chinese Belief, Winter Solstice is a Day of Changes not only in the Weather and Sun-shining Duration, but also the Luck and the Natural Element in the 3 Realms.
During these Changes, certain Elements in one’s Spiritual & Physical Body will also be changed. For those who encountered Negative Issues in the Year, after this Day, the Negative Issues will be eliminated and by doing Requesting of Blessings, hoping that the following Days of the Year will be Blessed with Good Luck.
And this is why, on this Day, Taoists and Chinese will have to prepare for a Grand Celebration, such as wearing new Clothing, consuming of Good Items, visit Temples, etc, to gain the Happiness and Good Blessing from the Deities and Big Dao.
Other Information 其他相關資訊﹕
Offering Tang Yuan to Deities on Dong Zhi (冬至敬湯圓)
Hokkien Song on Dong Zhi aka Winter Solstice (閩南語賀年金曲-冬節)
Hokkien Theme Song on Dong Zhi aka Winter Solstice Dumpling (閩南語金曲-冬至圓)