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The Chinese Winter Solstice Festival is called Dōng Zhì (冬至) in Mandarin and was considered to be equally important as the Chinese New Year in the past and has significant meaning in the Chinese lunisolar calendar.

History

Winter solstice was first determined as the Chinese traditional solar term among the total 24 terms 2500 years ago. It has been celebrated as the official “Chinese New Year” until Wudi Emperor of Han Dynasty adopted the traditional Chinese calendar. In ancient China, the Winter Festival was a grand day and was celebrated in the same way as Christmas or Hanukah in western society.

Chinese use the reaching time of this festival to predict the weather of the next year. For instance, it is believed that it will be snowless and frostless next winter if the Winter Solstice comes in the middle of a month (in lunar calendar). 

Tradition and Celebration

In Northern regions in China, there is custom of making antithetical couplets and the “Jiujiuxiaohan” traditional Chinese drawing consisting a plum blossom. One petal need to be added each day from the day after the festival. It is believed that after 81 days when the painting is completed, the day after will get warm. In Southern regions in China, "Winter Solstice rice ball" are made at this night because the night on this day is the longest during a year. Children are happy on this day and usually make the rice balls in shape of cute animals. 

For further details please go to:

VisitOurChina. (2009). Winter Solstice Festival-Chinese Winter Is Coming

Qiu Gui Su. (2014). Dong Zhi - Winter Solstice