The Dongzhi Festival, also known as Winter Solstice Festival, occurs every year on December 21 or 22 celebrating the year's turning point toward spring. This holiday's main idea is to enjoy a good meal with family and friends. The festival is observed by the Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans during the winter solstice.
In Southern China, one of the main Dongzhi traditions is to make and eat tangyuan (tang yuan), colorful balls of glutinous rice which symbolize family reunion. Each family member gets his or her share of tangyuan during the holiday. In northern China, people also eat dumplings with lamb and other ingredients.
Children are reminded during the festivities that they are now a year older so they must behave better in the upcoming year. The new year for children, therefore starts after the Dongzhi celebration instead of the Lunar New Year.
In Bejing, the Dongzhi Festival is all about eating dumplings. The northern Chinese style dumplings, most common in the Chinese capital, are stuffed with pork or other meats and boiled or fried. Enjoy this winter solstice comfort food with soy sauce, chili sauce, or vinegar. And don't forget what they say in Northern China: if you don't eat dumplings during Dongzhi, your ears will freeze.