‘Winter Solstice Festival’ A Chinese festival that few people know

Talking about Chinese festivals, many of you may have never heard of the festival which is held at the end of the year called “Winter Solstice Festival” or a festival in which people pay respect to god by offering Glutinous Rice Balls (Bua Loi). You may wonder why Bua Loi, a Thai dessert, became a part of Chinese festivals and why Chinese people have to offer Bua Loi as a sacrifice to god. Today, ACU PAY will introduce this festival to you, let’s start!

What is the Winter Solstice Festival?

The “Winter Solstice Festival” or Dongzhi Festival (冬至) is an important Chinese festival held at the end of the year. This festival is held during the WInter Solstice or the day when the sun shines the shortest, or the day when it peaks in winter. In the past, Chinese people called the Glutinous Rice Balls or Bua Loi as Fu yuan zhi (浮圆子); 浮 means float and 圆子 means a round balls. Later, it was called Tang tuan 汤团; 汤 means soup and 团 means sphere. It can be called Tang yuan (汤圆) which has the same meaning as Tang tuan and is similar in pronunciation. Moreover, when the words 团 圆 are together, it have the meaning of the family being together. The round shape of Bua Loi represents the harmony of the family’s members.

The origin of the Winter Solstice Festival

In ancient times, Chinese people paid a lot of attention to this festival, not less than the Chinese New Year Festival. People living in town would close their shops to make merits or pray for the protection of pets during the winter, for plants to flourish, and for people to be healthy. Also, people would pay their respect to Tudigong (Lord of the Soil and the Ground), sacred things, and angels that protect them so that they could live a happy life throughout the past year. At that time, Bua Loi would be made in red and white to represent the meaning of “The Sun and The Moon” to commemorate the circulation of the sun and moon, or to mark New Year’s Eve.

The process of praying homage at the Winter Solstice Festival

To worship gods on the Winter Solstice Festival, the following items must be prepared.

  1. Incense Burner
  2. A pair of red candles
  3. 3 or 5 of incense (The number depends on the local beliefs)
  4. Fruits
  5. 5 cups of tea
  6. 5 bowls of Bua Loi’
  7. Silver and gold paper
  8. Other tributes

Then, pray for blessings from the holy things that the family worshiped. In this regard, the number of things used in the worshiping of gods may be changed according to the convenience and beliefs of each family. Mostly, this worshiping is done outside the house, starting from dawn till night of 22 December. 

The Winter Solstice Festival is not only an astronomical New Year’s Day for Chinese people or a day to pray for blessings from sacred things, but also a day for those working far away from home to go back home and spend their time with their families during the holidays. Making Bua Loi together is an activity that strengthens a family’s relationship as well. After finishing the worship, the remaining Bua Loi in the pot will be given out to everyone in the family to eat. Everyone will be full with merit and full with delicious dessert.

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