Winter Holidays Around the World: Dongzhi Festival

Dongzhi banner

What is Dongzhi?

Dongzhi, Dong Zhi, and Dongji Festival is celebrated in China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.  It is a time-honored tradition celebrating Winter Solstice.  The festival celebrates the longest night of the year, but then the daylight begins to increase and the hours of darkness begin to decrease.  As the days become longer, it brings people hope, that the unhappiness of the past and a new life begins.  




In China, a common festival food is wontons called Huntun or glutinous rice balls called Tangyuan.

Taiwanese offer nine-layer cakes to their ancestors in the shapes of pigs, cows, sheep, chicken, duck, or tortoise. On this day families each a porridge called Patjuk, which is made of red beans, which symbolizes the beginning of a new year. It is served with rice flour dumplings called Saealshim.








How is it celebrated?

Traditions include worshiping the Heaven and ancestors, and counting Nines of Winter.  

Worshiping the Heaven:  Donzhi was originally considered the New Year, and the belief of worshipping the Heaven on the first day of the year will bring a good harvest year.  

Worshipping the Ancestors:  Households create alters with photos and burn incense. In Shanghai, the custom is to sweep the tombs of the ancestors as a sign of respect.

Nines of Winter (Shu Jiu):  The Nines of Winter is the nine periods of nine days of the start of Winter Solstice.

China Internet Information Center. (n.d.). Traditional Chinese Festivals -

Dongji (Winter Solstice). (2020, December 26). The Seoul Guide.

Dongzhi Festival, Winter Solstice in China, One of the 24 Solar Terms. (2021, April 14). Travel China Guide.