Hong Kong is a city full of holidays — we celebrate everything from Easter to Tomb Sweeping Day (aka Ching Ming Festival).
Winter Solstice is easily one of the most important family-bonding days in the city. Called dong jee (冬至) in Cantonese, the festival occurs on either December 21 or December 22 each year, on the 11th month of the Lunar calendar. Winter Solstice marks the longest night (or shortest day, depending on how you look at it) of the year, and is taken as an optimistic sign of things to come — since the days will only stay brighter for longer from then on. In Chinese philosophy, Winter Solstice also marks the transition of dark, cold Yin days into lighter, warmer Yang days.
One traditional custom during Winter Solstice is for entire families to gather ’round for a hearty dinner together. The meal usually concludes with the consumption of tong yuen dumplings (湯圓), which sound like the term for “union” in Cantonese.
In order to facilitate this family-oriented festivity, workplaces across the city started allowing their employees to leave offices early. Now, it is common for companies to shut down for a half day — and even those without families to have a meal with can have something to celebrate about.
Want to learn more about Hong Kong- and Cantonese food traditions? You might want to check out our book here.