Winter solstice, as the name implies, means the coming of winter. As an important solar term in the traditional Chinese calendar, it is also a traditional holiday for Chinese, which is also called “冬节”， “长至节”，“亚岁”, etc. Generally, winter solstice occurs between December 21st and 23rd. According to the traditional Chinese calendar, five days constitutes a pentad and three pentads constitutes a solar term. One year is divided into twelve periods and twelve climates which are regarded as twenty-four solar terms. The Winter Solstice is one of twenty-four solar terms. On this day, in the Northern Hemisphere the period of daytime is the shortest of the year and the period of night is longest. . In Northern China during winter solstice there is a custom of eating dumplings.
Dumpling is a Chinese cuisine. Firstly, white flour is rolled out into dough skins and then vegetables, ground meat and seasonings are placed inside. . After the dumplings are wrapped, they are boiled in hot water. They are enjoyed with a variety of different condiments. You can dip them in soy sauce, vinegar, or chili oil. Dumplings are truly delicious!
Actually, the tradition of eating dumplings during winter solstice has its origin in early times.. It is said that dumplings were invented by Zhang Zhongjing, a well-known doctor from the Eastern-Han Dynasty. One winter, he saw that many people’s ears were frozen and it troubled him. When he went home, he asked his disciples to boil mutton, chilies and other ingredients with medicinal properties for fending off cold in a pot. After these were boiled, they ladled the mutton and other ingredients out of the pot, chopped them into pieces, and then wrapped them with dough skins in the shape of ears. Afterward, they put these into pots to boil again. On the day of the winter solstice, the people whose ears were frozen were sent to eat the dumplings. Zhang Zhongjing called it “cold dispelling dumpling soup”. People who ate it felt warm from head to toe. Their ears heated up, healing ailments caused by the cold.
Thereafter, every winter solstice Zhang Zhongjing made “cold dispelling dumpling soup” in order to prevent and cure ailments caused by the cold. . Then there became a saying that if you eat dumplings during the winter solstice, then you won’t freeze your ears off. Afterwards, Zhang Zhongjing died on the day of winter solstice. In order to honor his memory, every year on the day of the winter solstice every household makes dumplings. Who would have thought that this medicinal cuisine, created by Zhang Zhongjing---the medical sage and handed down to us till today, would become gourmet food on holidays!