冬至日 – 和孩子度過充滿學習意義的團聚時光 Cultural and Language Learning on Winter Solstice Day


冬至日 是一個團聚的重要節日


The winter solstice has always been an important day to Chinese people. In this post, we will share with you some of the traditional activities practiced on this day.

一、傳統文化 Traditional cultural studies




The winter solstice is one of the 24 “jie qi” (designated seasonal days) of a year, following the Chinese lunar calendar. As it comes after the harvest season, there is always a lot of thanksgiving worshipping and celebration. In Guangdong, it is sometimes even treated as more important than the Chinese New Year.

  • 長江以北的大部分地區有冬至吃餃子的傳統,還流傳一個故事:南陽醫聖張仲景在寒冬告老還鄉時,看見很多鄉親的耳朵被凍爛了,就讓弟子搭起醫棚,用羊肉、辣椒和一些驅寒藥材放在鍋裡煮熟,撈出來剁碎,用面皮包成像耳朵的樣子,做成「驅寒矯耳湯」給百姓吃。后來,人們在冬至保留了「捏凍耳朵」的習俗,並把它稱為「餃子」。
  • North of Yangzi River: dumplings are their go-to dish. There is a beautiful story about how dumplings were invented. Once there was a retired medical doctor called Zhang Zhong-Jing who noticed that people were suffering from frostbite on their ears. He therefore told his apprentices to set up a tent and prepare a special soup, using mutton and chilies, ground together with some medicinal herbs, wrapped in pastry sheet and formed into ear-like shape. He named it the “Cold-driving and Ear-curing Soup”. People have since kept the practice, but changed its name to Jiao-zi (dumplings).
冬至日 Winter Solstice Day -長江以北的大部分地區有冬至吃餃子的傳統
  • 江浙一帶在冬至人們喜歡吃湯圓,裡面包上精肉、豆沙、蘿卜絲等;
  • 蘇州一帶有冬至晚喝桂花冬釀酒的習俗,加入當年桂花釀造的米酒,清香且驅寒;
  • 江南一帶冬至晚全家歡聚共吃赤豆糯米飯;
  • 廣東人還有祭祖分豬肉、分柑等習俗,「柑」取其與「金」在粵語中的同音。
  • Jiang-Zhe area: on this day, people like to have round dumplings, filled with ground meat, bean paste, shredded turnip, and more.
  • Su-Zhou area: people typically enjoy a special rice wine brewed with the elderflower harvested earlier on in the same year, to cast the cold out of their bodies.
  • South of Yangzi River: the winter solstice is a day of family reunion, and people typically have red bead glutinous rice on this day.
  • Guangdong: there are rituals of worship, sharing of pork and mandarins (柑). (柑 sounds the same as 金 (meaning “gold”) in Cantonese.)
冬至日 Winter Solstice Day - 廣東人還有祭祖分豬肉、分柑等習俗



  • 一種是繁體「亭前垂柳珍重待春風」九個字:每個字有九劃,九個字就總共九九八十一劃。從冬至當天開始,每天按順序描紅一個筆劃;
  • 另一種是「梅花消寒圖」:畫一枝素梅,枝上畫梅花九朵,每朵梅花九片花瓣,總共是九九八十一瓣;每過一天就給一片花瓣上色。


There is also the custom of “Count Nine”, which is counting the days following the day of winter solstice. The first 9th day is “one-nine”, the second 9th day (the 18th day) is “two-nine”, etc. The nineth 9th day, which is in fact 81st day, is the beginning of the following spring.

A long, long time ago, people invented a “Nine-nine Driving Cold Drawing” to help them “Count Nine”. There are two ways to do it:

  • In traditional Chinese writing, people use the 9 characters “亭前垂柳珍重待春風” /tíng qián chuí liǔ zhēn zhòng dài chūn fēng/ (this literally translates as “in front of a pavilion, with the willow branches hanging down, take good care, and wait for the spring breeze”). Each of these 9 characters are made up of 9 writing strokes, which give 81 strokes altogether. Following the winter solstice, one would trace 1 stroke each day.
  • A drawing of a simple plum flower branch, with 9 plum flowers on it. Each flower has 9 petals, making up 81 petals altogether. One would colour in a petal a day.

Perhaps this may inspire you to make a plum flower drawing with your child. It would be a fun way to help your child learn how to count, while practicing drawing and coordination.

二、物理科學 Scientific studies

晝最短 夜最長

據文獻記載,在春秋時期,中國人就用土圭觀測太陽,測出了冬至,是二十四節氣中最早定出的一個。它是二十四節氣的第二十二個節氣,大概在每年公歷的12月21-23日。過了 冬至日 ,天氣就會越來越寒冷,直到回春。



According to records, the winter solstice was the very first jie-qi defined in China. Around as early as 770 BCE, Chinese people accurately identified the winter solstice by observing the positions of the sun with a sundial. In the northern hemisphere, this is the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest period of night time. It is also the day our shadows are the longest in the year.

If today happens to be a sunny day at where you are, take your child outdoor to look at some shadows.

三、語言學習 Language studies



Since ancient times, there are many rhymes related to the winter solstice in China. For example:

  • 「冬至黑,過年疏;冬至疏,過年黑」,意思是冬至這天如果沒有太陽,過年一定晴天;反之,如果冬至放晴,過年就會下雨。
  • 「冬至前犁金,冬至后犁鐵」說的是在冬至日之前犁田對於庄稼作物的好處。
  • 關於順應節氣飲食的建議:「冬至蘿卜夏至姜,適時進食無病痛」。
  • 北方還流傳一首數九的歌謠:

「一九 二九 不出手;
三九 四九 冰上走;
五九 六九 沿河看柳;
七九河開 八九雁來;

  • A dark winter solstice promises a bright new year’s day. A sunny winter solstice brings a rainy new year’s day.
  • Plough before winter solstice is gold. Plough after winter solstice is iron.
  • Eat turnip on winter solstice and eat ginger on summer solstice. These are ways to reduce bodily pains and illnesses.
  • In the north, there is a Counting Nine rhyme:

「一九 二九 不出手;(one-nine, two-nine, you do nothing)
三九 四九 冰上走;(three-nine, four nine, you can walk on frozen rivers)
五九 六九 沿河看柳;(five-nine, six-nine, enjoy the willows along the river banks)
七九河開 八九雁來;(seven-nine, rivers melt; eight-nine, wild geese return)
九九加一九,耕牛遍地走。(nine-nine plus one-nine, ploughing oxen work in the fields)」



Talk to your child about winter and winter solstice. What do they associate it with? How do they feel about winter? What specific dishes would they like to eat on winter solstice? This would be a good opportunity for them to learn new words, expressions, and to practice speaking.

In the Basic Chinese 500 course, there are many characters and words that you could use for winter and the winter solstice. With the Study Cards and a little bit of creativity, you could do some matching, pairing, or filling in the blank activities with your child.

比如   Here are some examples:

  • 冬天,很冷,風很大,要穿毛衣、穿大衣。
  • 北方會下雪,我們幾個朋友一起做雪人玩。
  • 冬至,人人都回家,大家都很快樂。
  • 桌上有水果,雞肉,牛肉,魚肉……很多美味的菜啊。


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© 2020 Sagebooks Hongkong. All rights reserved.

Sagebooks Hongkong promotes independent reading and life-long learning by nurturing the child’s confidence, autonomy and self-teaching abilities. Since 2006. Find out more About Us.

© 2020 Sagebooks Hongkong. All rights reserved.

Sagebooks Hongkong promotes independent reading and life-long learning by nurturing the child’s confidence, autonomy and self-teaching abilities. Since 2006. Find out more About Us.

© 2020 Sagebooks Hongkong. All rights reserved.