Learn New Words FAST with this Lesson’s Vocab Review List

Get this lesson’s key vocab, their translations and pronunciations. Sign up for your Free Lifetime Account Now and get 7 Days of Premium Access including this feature.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in China Series at ChineseClass101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Chinese holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 12, Winter Solstice Festival. In Chinese, it’s called 冬至 (dōngzhì).
China has been an agricultural country since ancient times. Therefore, each day that represents the changing of seasons is particularly important. The winter solstice is usually on December 22 or 23 and marks the coming of winter.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?
Why has the custom of eating dumplings been handed down in northern China?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
People in the north eat dumplings or 饺子 (jiǎozi) during the winter solstice. Dumplings are a very popular folk food with a long history in China. There is even a saying that states 好吃不过饺子 (hǎochī búguò jiǎozi) meaning “there is no better food than dumplings.” In some places, there is also a custom of eating lamb during the Winter Solstice Festival. Since China enters its coldest time after winter solstice, traditional Chinese doctors regard lamb as a food that can help fortify the Yang (the masculine principle) and make the body strong.
Eating Tangyuan, a dessert made from glutinous rice flour, is also a traditional custom at winter solstice and is particularly popular in southern China. The character yuan 圆 (yuán) meaning "round," indicates reunion and perfect success.
In the lunar calendar, ancient Chinese people created a way to count days in winter, known as "counting nine" or 数九 (shǔ jiǔ); it starts from the winter solstice that begins with the "first nine" and ends with the "ninth nine." The cold winter lasts for a total of 81 days.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question!
Why has the custom of eating dumplings been handed down in northern China?
Eating dumplings during the Winter Solstice Festival is to commemorate an ancient doctor named 张仲景 (Zhāng Zhòngjǐng). He is said to have invented dumplings. Because the dumpling soup he made successfully cured the frostbitten ears of many people, a saying was born—"If you don’t eat dumplings at winter solstice, your ear will be frostbitten."
What did you think of this lesson? Did you learn many interesting things?
Are dumplings popular in your country? Please leave a comment telling us at ChineseClass101.com, and I'll see you in our next lesson. Bye!