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How to Celebrate the Winter Solstice in Hong Kong

During the Winter Solstice Festival, Hong Kong prepares to celebrate the coming New Year with family and loved ones. In this article, you’ll learn about how Hongkongers celebrate the Chinese Winter Solstice, and why!

At, we hope to make every aspect of your language-learning journey both fun and informative—starting with this article.

Let’s delve into this rich and cozy aspect of Hong Kong culture together!

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1. What is the Winter Solstice?

In Chinese tradition, there’s a saying that says Winter Solstice is more important than the Lunar New Year. That is because ancient China was an agricultural community, and cultivation had to be done according to the season.

Why do the Chinese celebrate the Winter Solstice?

Chinese people observed astronomy and the laws of nature, and found that the Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year. After that day, the daytime gradually becomes longer, and spring comes as winter fades away. Hence, the start of a new year actually starts on Winter Solstice instead of the Lunar New Year.

2. When is the Winter Solstice Festival?

Frosty Winter Scene

Each year, the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21 or December 22.

3. How Hongkongers Celebrate the Winter Solstice

A Family Reunion

On Winter Solstice, Hongkongers usually visit the temple, and then everyone has a family reunion and dines together. This is called zou dung. A delicious sumptuous dinner with family and friends, followed by glutinous rice balls as dessert, all while enjoying bonding and reuniting with everyone, is the best way to start a new year.

Do you know why eating glutinous rice balls is a custom during the Winter Solstice? Glutinous rice balls are a round-shaped dessert made of glutinous rice flour, and symbolize reunion. In some areas, eating glutinous rice balls on Winter Solstice represents a person adding a year to their age. There are various types of fillings in glutinous rice balls; the most common are black sesame and peanut, as well as the Shanghainese-style glutinous rice balls in sweet osmanthus and glutinous rice wine.

For the Chinese Winter Solstice Festival, Hong Kong companies let their employees go home one or two hours before schedule, so they can go home earlier and enjoy family time and the sumptuous end-of-the-year dinner.

4. Winter Solstice as a Public Holiday

In which region is Winter Solstice a public holiday?

Trick question! Actually, Winter Solstice isn’t a public holiday in Hong Kong. Therefore, kids and even some adults don’t pay much attention to it.

Macau is the only region among all Chinese societies that classifies Winter Solstice as a public holiday.

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for Winter Solstice in Hong Kong

Wonton Dumpling

Here’s some essential Cantonese vocabulary you should know for the Winter Solstice in Hong Kong!

  • 冬天 (dung1 tin1) — Winter
  • 雲吞 (wan4 tan1) — Wonton dumpling
  • 冬大過年 (dung1 daai6 gwo3 nin4) — Winter Solstice is more important than Chinese New Year
  • 冬至 (dung1 zi3) — Winter Solstice Festival
  • 永夜 (wing5 je6) — Polar night
  • 白夜 (baak6 je6) — Midnight sun
  • 做冬 (zou6 dung1) — Have dinner with family on Winter Solstice evening
  • 桂花酒釀圓子 (gwai3 faa1 zau2 joeng6 jyun2 zi2) — Glutinous rice balls in sweet osmanthus and glutinous rice wine
  • 湯圓 (tong1 jyun2) — Glutinous rice ball
  • 一家團聚 (jat1 gaa1 tyun4 zeoi6) — Family reunion

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Cantonese Winter Solstice vocabulary list! Once you have these words down, you’ll be a step closer to talk about the Winter Solstice in Cantonese. 😉

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about this fun and festive holiday with us! What are your thoughts on the Winter Solstice? aims to make the process of learning Cantonese a painless and exciting experience, and what better way than by digging into Cantonese culture?

If you’re interested in learning more about Hong Kong and her people, you may find the following pages useful:

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