As the days get shorter and we draw nearer to Christmas here in the U.S., the people of East Asia–especially China, get ready to celebrate Winter Solstice. Although we give it a passing nod here, it is one of the major celebrations for the Chinese. Some compare it in importance to the Spring Festival. Yu’s Garden Chinese Restaurant invites you to celebrate Winter Solstice with us.
Geologically speaking, winter solstice is a solar term referring to the day with the shortest amount of sunlight. In 2012 it falls on December 21st, but it can fall anywhere between the 21st and the 23rd of December. This signifies the point in the year when sunlight starts to increase in the Northern Hemisphere.
Traditionally in China, it is said that some still celebrate the concept that everyone turns one year older on Winter Solstice. In ancient times, the Chinese would consider it as day of celebration and many still observe the day in modern times. The traditions involve gathering with family and friends and eating special regional foods. In the northern climes of China, people tend to eat a dumpling soup, while the mid sections eat a noodle dish and the southern region eats a sweet soup.
Winter Solstice also marks the beginning of the countdown to the Spring Festival. It is exactly 81 days between Winter Solstice and Chinese New Year. To count off each day, the Chinese may use several different methods. A tradition that some still observe, is the bringing of an unfinished painting of a plum tree into the home. The tree has 81 unpainted flowers. One flower is painted every day, so that when spring arrives the tree is in full bloom inside as well as outside. Another tradition involves the writing of a poem that contains 9 characters, each composed of 9 strokes. The children would be then taught a new stroke each day. The poem spoke of the coming spring and the changes occurring during the 81 days they waited for it. We have included it for your reading pleasure.
|Well bottom deep warmth return not return
Sighing cold rain wet withered root
What person more like come to teacher
Not be flower time willing come alone
|Deep at the bottom of the well no warmth has yet returned,
The rain which sighs and feels so cold has dampened withered roots.
What sort of man at such a time would come to visit the teacher?
As this is not a time for flowers, I find I’ve come alone.
Be sure to come by on Winter Solstice and enjoy some warming food to help you through the cold winter’s night. Dine in with us at our new location: 610 Roosevelt Rd. in Glen Ellyn, or call us at 630-469-1535 to order from our take out menu for pick up or delivery, or visit our Facebook page or website to place your order online. Happy Holidays from Yu’s Garden! We will be open on Christmas Day.