Winter Solstice is a very important festival in Hong Kong and it’s based on the lunar calendar so it always falls on December 20, 21, 22, or 23 and it is when the North Pole is tilted farthest away from the sun; thus making it the shortest day of the year. For 2016, Winter Solstice falls on December 22, 2016. Find out why it’s such an important holiday for Hong Kong and what people do to celebrate it!

Winter Solstice Festival is one of the most important festivals in Hong Kong and has its origins in the Chinese concept of ying and yang, which represents balance and harmony in life. Traditionally, it is during this festival that the farmers and fishermen had to prepare for the upcoming colder months of winter and now, in Hong Kong, it is a festival to come together with family to share a meal and to appreciate the bonding of the family.


It is not a public holiday in Hong Kong in the sense that you do not get the day off; however, most places I have worked at will at least let you leave work 2 hours earlier than usual. This is because the dinner on the day of the Winter Solstice Festival is very important and lavish – all members of the family will come together to have this extravagant and bountiful meal together. Workers will leave early to 1) Make preparations for the meal 2) Have time to get home (the MTR gets crazy).


What do you eat at Winter Solstice Festival? Everything. It is a feast! You will have all forms of poultry, seafood, and just basically a huge spread of food. At dessert, you always have tongyuen (glutinous rice dumplings) because they are round and that represents the togetherness of the family and the name in Cantonese, 湯圓, also sounds like “togetherness” in Cantonese, which is 團圓.

I usually get my tongyuen in the freezer aisle of the supermarket (teehee) but we do make our own ginger syrup soup, which is what the tongyuen(s) are in. If you’re up for the task of making the tongyuen(s) from scratch, my very good friend (we date back to high school!) from has a recipe for your own homemade tongyuen here. She’s also got the recipe for the ginger syrup soup as well, and she’s got YouTube videos for both. Here’s the one to make tongyuen:



After the meal, the family gathers around chatting and just generally enjoys each other’s company. For my particular household, we have a family tradition where the youngsters will start playing card games, namely “Big 2”, but that’s just us.

Does your family have a family tradition that you would like to share? Share it in the comments below =)