10 Interesting Winter Solstice Traditions around the World
1. Winter Solstice and Yule Festival in Europe
Yule is an ancient festival celebrating the rebirth of the sun in northern Europe as the sun shines longer and longer after the day. People sit around the campfire and told the story while drinking sweet ale. Other Winter Solstice rituals were gradually added such as Yule Log that is burning the trees on the field, eating ham, and singing ode.
2. Winter Sunrise at Stonehenge, England
In the UK, one of the most popular Winter Solstice activities is that people dress up in a variety of characters and animals and come to Stonehenge to welcome the latest dawn of the year and celebrate the arrival of the Winter Solstice. It is said that people come to Stonehenge on the Winter Solstice because of the relation between Stonehenge and the sun. On Winter Solstice, the sunset light shines right through two stones here.
3. Winter Solstice at Newgrange, Ireland
4. The Bonfires of Saint John, Spain
5. The Feast of Winter Solstice in Seattle, USA
6. Winter Parade and Lantern Show in Canada
In Toronto, Canada, people gather to spend the longest night of the year. The Winter Solstice traditions include lighting lanterns and fire dancing show.
7. Dongzhi Festival in China
In China, the Winter Solstice is also called Dongzhi. When you ask people there “how do you celebrate Winter Solstice”, the most answers you get may be eating dumplings. There, people eat dumplings to protect ears from frostbiting, glutinous rice balls to celebrate family reunion, and mutton to warm body up, etc. In ancient times, it was as important as the Chinese New Year as the day time started to become longer and longer, so the Winter Solstice events also include worshipping the Heaven and ancestors, which are still preserved in some areas.
8. Yuzu Hot Spring in Japan
There is a saying in Japan that the foods whose pronunciation end up with Japanese “ん” indicate good luck. Therefore, carrots, white radish, lotus root, ginkgo, agar, kumquat and other foods are auspicious food and widely ate on Winter Solstice.
9. Eat Red Bean Porridge in Korea
The representative Winter Solstice food of South Korea is red bean porridge. Since ancient times, Koreans have had the Winter Solstice tradition of eating red bean porridge to exorcise devils. In addition to dining customs, the Winter Solstice also has some other folk sayings. For example, if the paper with the word “snake” is placed on a wall or a pillar, the evil spirits cannot enter the home.
10. Yalda Night before Winter Solstice, Iran
In Iran, the Winter Solstice eve is called Yalda night. Yalda means new birth. Iranians think this night is the longest and darkest night of the year. Therefore, the Iranians family members get together to dispel the melancholy and suffocation of the night. The Iranians eat a lot of fruit on this day to celebrate the Yalda Festival.