Dong Zhi, or Winter Solstice Festival, is an important observance in Singapore, where longstanding Chinese traditions remain strong. While celebration is most common among ethnic Chinese, people of all backgrounds get involved in Winter Solstice activities. This day is not a public holiday, but it is nevertheless an important cultural day on the Singapore calendar.
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Winter Solstice comes six weeks before the Chinese New Year, which is also much celebrated in Singapore. It marks the shortest day of the year, which in Singapore is only about eight minutes shorter than the longest day due to its location a mere one degree latitude above the Equator.
On this day, families may go out on the town to see public decorations or attend special events, but the heart of the holiday is at home. The main dish served, traditionally, is called “Tang Yuan”. It is a kind of pea soup into which are placed sweet, cooked rice dough balls. Some of the balls are white and the others pink, with the pink ones being intended to bring good luck.
Even though there isn’t much of a “winter” or radical seasonal changes in Singapore, the traditions of Winter Solstice live on and find new expression here year after year.