Dongzhi (冬至) is the 22nd one of 24 solar terms, and marks the winter solstice. It always comes on or around December 22 in Gregorian calendar, when sunshine is weakest and daylight shortest. In China, people celebrate the day as an most important festival. This year, Dongzhi Festival occurs on Friday, December 21, 2012.
Originally, Dongzhi was celebrated as an end-of-harvest festival. Today, it is observed with a family reunion over the long night, also named “Chinese Thanksgiving”. Family members get together to perform ancestor worship, eat delicate food, and exchange gifts.
Like any other festivals, there must be some special food to accomplish the happiness on the specific day. In north China, it has been a tradion to eating dumplings or wontons on the festive occassion, which means gaining positive energy and getting rid of negative power. Red bean porridge is welcomed in Shaanxi since it is considered effective to avoid ghosts and epidemic disease. And, Tangyuan is present during the celebration in South China, which symbolize reunion.
After this day, many places in China will go through the coldest period of the year. In Guilin, the locals begin to make lawei, or cured meat, for spring Festival.