As some of you may know, I am am acupuncturist by trade. For several years I taught Introduction to Chinese Medical Classics at University. Choice of acupuncture treatments are often based on the time of day or season of the year. The traditional Chinese calendar is a lunar-solar calendar divided into 24 sections. Start of Winter occurs each year around November 7th when the sun is at 225* celestial longitude. I tell my patients that in Chinese Medicine, seasons go by Light and not by Temperature. The winter solstice is the deepest, darkest day of the year, and is thus the MIDDLE of winter and not the beginning. The beginning is November 7th.
The four beginnings of the seasons were important festivals in ancient times. Before the Start of Winter, the ancient emperor would take a shower and have no more meat. On that day, the emperor would lead his officials to the suburbs and perform the ceremony of “welcoming the winter.” (See picture above.)
Which brings us to Thick Soup. People in China now welcome Start of Winter a little differently. Depending on the region, festivals in which thick, rich, warming soups and dumplings, squash, and meats often figure prominently. Start of Winter celebrations often last several days, so why not join the fun? There’s still plenty of time to take a shower and have a vegetarian snack. Hitch the horses to the chariot and point them in the direction of the grocery store. Get some potatoes, carrots, turnips, peas, acorn squash, onions, apples, celery, red wine if you like, warming spices, meat if you eat it. Point horses toward home then make yourself a wonderfully fragrant, warming soup or stew to welcome Start of Winter. Ceremonial dress robes optional.
For more about Chinese Start of Winter Hertiage Festivals, click here.