For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it's the day with the shortest amount of daylightand our longest night of the year. While it's winter for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, people in the Southern Hemisphere experience it as their Summer Solstice with the longest stretch of daylight.
China has developed a unique festive food culture throughout the years. Eating dumplings is a common folk custom for many Chinese on the day of Winter Solstice, especially those living in the north.
When midwinter comes, vital movement begins to decline and calm down. In this period, eating an appropriate amount of nuts, such as peanuts, walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts and almonds, is good for one's body.
People in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, are accustomed to eating wontons in midwinter. According to legend, during the midwinter feast 2,500 years ago, the King of Wu was disgusted with all kinds of costly foods and wanted to eat something different. Then, the beauty Xishi came into the kitchen to make "wontons" to honor the king's wish. He ate a lot and liked the food very much. To commemorate Xishi, the people of Suzhou made wontons the official food to celebrate the festival.
In places such as Shanghai, people eattangyuan, a kind of stuffed small dumpling ball made of glutinous rice flour to celebrate Winter Solstice.
In Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui autonomous region, people call midwinter the "Ghost Festival". On that day, it is customary for people there to drink mutton and vermicelli soup and eat the dumplings in the soup. They give the midwinter soup a strange name: "brain" and share it with their neighbors.
During the Winter Solstice, Hangzhou residents traditionally eat rice cakes. In the past, before the approach of the Winter Solstice, every household would make the cakes to worship their ancestors or use as gifts for relatives and friends.