Special:Winter Solstice

Updated: 2012-12-24 15:59

By Fan Zhen,C.J Henderson and Sun Ye (chinadaily.com.cn)

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Special:Winter Solstice

Special:Winter Solstice

Rainbow dumplings 

The winter solstice is upon us, and as the deepest winter nights fall, people in North China will be cooking dumplings. But, Fan Zhen and C.J. Henderson found a place where you can feast royally.

Keeping traditions alive is never an easy thing. When it comes to a culinary convention, a lot of patience and courage is required to refine classic cooking techniques into an art. Chen Zunkai, founder of Baoyuan Dumpling House, has spent the past 16 years improving one of the most traditional of Chinese foods: jiaozi or dumplings.

Her dumplings are not the plain white doughy crescents simply stuffed with pork or lamb, but colorful ingot-shaped dumplings using more than 150 kinds of fillings. more

Celebrating the winter solstice in China

Special:Winter Solstice

The Chinese divides the whole year into 24 solar terms according to climate changes. Winter solstice, "the arrival of winter", is one, and it is the earliest recorded. It usually coincides with Dec 21 to 23 in the Gregorian calendar and is the shortest day of the year.

In the Chinese concept of yin and yang and the five elements, winter solstice is especially critical to maintaining yang qi, the masculine strength which keeps the body warm in winter.

For the Chinese, the day is also one among three important days in the year for family reunions, and in South China, an old saying goes: "Winter solstice is no less important than the Spring Festival". more

Special:Winter Solstice

Recipe: Jiaozi 
As in all Chinese festivals, food plays an important part during the winter solstice, with customs varying from place to place. In the north, winter is all about fending off cold, and mutton and dumplings are eaten to dispel the chills and warm the body.

It is said this tradition started in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), when many of the homeless were suffering from frostbite.

Zhang Zhongjing, the "medical sage" of that age, invented an ear-shaped dumpling filled with lamb and pepper and called it jiaozi or dumpling. To remember his kindness, people started making and eating dumplings every winter.more

Special:Winter Solstice

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