Dongzhi (solar term)

Dongzhi festival is a traditional holiday of China that has a long history and specific customs. Dongzhi means the extreme of winter. The history of Dongzhi was arrived since the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) and it became important until Tang and Song Dynasty, when they decided to officially made a day to worship their god and ancestors. In the present days, in some regions of China, people still gather around to eat a special meal or to visit their ancestral tombs.

Chinese name
Literal meaningwinter's extreme
(i.e. winter solstice)
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese alphabetđông chí
Chữ Hán冬至
Korean name
Japanese name


Sunlight directed through the 17 arches of Seventeen Arch Bridge, Summer Palace, Beijing around winter solstice

The traditional Chinese calendar divides a year into 24 solar terms.[1] Dōngzhì, Tōji, Dongji, Tunji (in Okinawan), or Đông chí (in Vietnamese) is the 22nd solar term, and marks the winter solstice. It begins when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 270° and ends when it reaches the longitude of 285°[disputed ]. It more often refers in particular to the day when the Sun is exactly at the celestial longitude of 270°. In the Gregorian calendar, it usually begins around 21 December (22 December East Asia time) and ends around 5 January.

Along with equinoxes, solstices (traditional Chinese: 至點; simplified Chinese: 至日; "extreme day") mark the middle of Traditional Chinese calendar seasons. Thus, in "冬至", the Chinese character "" means "extreme", which implies "solstices", and therefore the term for the winter solstice directly signifies the summit of winter, as "midwinter" is used in English.

In China, Dongzhi was originally celebrated as an end-of-harvest festival. Today, it is observed with a family reunion over the long night, when pink and white tangyuan are eaten in southern China in sweet broth to symbolise family unity and prosperity. Whereas in Northern China, the traditional Dongzhi food would be the jiaozi.


Solar term
Term Longitude Dates
Lichun 315° 4–5 February
Yushui 330° 18–19 February
Jingzhe 345° 5–6 March
Chunfen 20–21 March
Qingming 15° 4–5 April
Guyu 30° 20–21 April
Lixia 45° 5–6 May
Xiaoman 60° 21–22 May
Mangzhong 75° 5–6 June
Xiazhi 90° 21–22 June
Xiaoshu 105° 7–8 July
Dashu 120° 22–23 July
Liqiu 135° 7–8 August
Chushu 150° 23–24 August
Bailu 165° 7–8 September
Qiufen 180° 23–24 September
Hanlu 195° 8–9 October
Shuangjiang 210° 23–24 October
Lidong 225° 7–8 November
Xiaoxue 240° 22–23 November
Daxue 255° 7–8 December
Dongzhi 270° 21–22 December
Xiaohan 285° 5–6 January
Dahan 300° 20–21 January

In Korea, the winter solstice is also called the "Small Seol," and there is a custom of celebrating the day. People make porridge with red beans and round rice cakes(saealsim) with sticky rice. In the past, red bean porridge soup was sprayed on walls or doors because it was said to ward off bad ghosts. In addition, there was a custom in the early days of the Goryeo and Joseon Period in which people in financial difficulty settled all their debts and enjoyed the day.[2]


In Japan, Tōji is also one of the 24 solar terms. On this day, it is customary to drink grapefruit hot water and eat pumpkin in certain places. The とうじ‐カボチャ【冬至カボチャ】.The habit of eating pumpkin during the winter solstice is because it makes sense to provide products for the festival during the winter when vegetables are lacking. とうじ‐ばい【冬至梅】is a variety of plum. White flowers begin to bloom around the winter solstice. とうじ It is still a surname in Japan and has a long history.


  • 蚯蚓結, 'Earthworms form knots', referring to the hibernation of earthworms.
  • 麋角解, 'Deer shed their antlers'
  • 水泉動, 'Spring water moves'

Date and timeEdit

Date and Time (UTC)
year begin end
辛巳 2001-12-21 19:21 2002-01-05 12:43
壬午 2002-12-22 01:14 2003-01-05 18:27
癸未 2003-12-22 07:03 2004-01-06 00:18
甲申 2004-12-21 12:41 2005-01-05 06:03
乙酉 2005-12-21 18:34 2006-01-05 11:46
丙戌 2006-12-22 00:22 2007-01-05 17:40
丁亥 2007-12-22 06:07 2008-01-05 23:24
戊子 2008-12-21 12:03 2009-01-05 05:14
己丑 2009-12-21 17:46 2010-01-05 11:08
庚寅 2010-12-21 23:38 2011-01-05 16:54
辛卯 2011-12-22 05:30 2012-01-05 22:43
壬辰 2012-12-21 11:11 2013-01-05 04:33
癸巳 2013-12-21 17:11 2014-01-05 10:24
甲午 2014-12-21 23:03 2015-01-05 16:20
乙未 2015-12-22 04:45 2016-01-05 22:09
丙申 2016-12-21 10:43 2017-01-05 03:54
丁酉 2017-12-21 16:29 2018-01-05 09:47
戊戌 2018-12-21 22:23 2019-01-05 15:41
己亥 2019-12-22 04:17 2020-01-05 21:31
庚子 2020-12-21 10:01 2021-01-05 03:22
Source: JPL Horizons On-Line Ephemeris System

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Zhang, Peiyu; Hunag, Hongfeng( (1994). "The Twenty-four Solar Terms of the Chinese Calendar and the Calculation for Them". Purple Mountain Observatory.
  2. ^ "동지". (in Korean). Retrieved 28 March 2021.
Preceded by
Daxue (大雪)
Solar term (節氣) Succeeded by
Xiaohan (小寒)