Happy Winter Solstice / 冬至快乐！This weekend, we took a break from the daily Christmas activities to learn about how winter solstice is celebrated traditionally in Chinese culture. While learning Chinese with my kids, I am also learning about Chinese culture as I don’t remember my late parents ever talking about this holiday. First, we watched a YouTube video in Chinese that gives a helpful summary about 冬至节! Then we enjoyed perusing a 冬至节 book with amazing illustrations while listening to Ximalaya for audio narration. In addition, we started two 九九消寒图 (Jiǔjiǔ xiāo hán tú / Nine Nine’s of Passing the Cold of Winter) activities!
冬至节 (Dongzhi Festival) 九九消寒图 Activities with Printable Chinese Poem
冬至节 is one of the major ancient Chinese festivals that began over 2000 years ago. The winter solstice is traditionally celebrated in different parts of China by preparing and eating special food, such as 餃子 (jiǎozi / dumplings), 红豆糯米饭 (hóngdòu nuòmǐ fàn / red bean glutinous rice), 姜母鸭 (jiāng mǔ yā /ginger duck hot pot), and 汤圆 (tāngyuán / sticky rice balls). The winter solstice is also the start of the Nine Nines of Winter (九九消寒), referring to the nine periods of nine days each after which spring arrives and winter is over. To keep busy during the cold days and count down for the arrival of spring, ancient Chinese activities include:
- 九九消寒歌 (also known as 数九歌)
Here’s a quick peak at the 冬至节 book as well as the 九九消寒图 activities!
1. 冬至节 book
- Title: Part of the Chinese Festivals Stories Collection of 12 books 中国记忆(传统节日共12册) – click here to see the other books
- 作者 (Author)：王早早
- Simplified Chinese / ISBN: 9787303155132
- Traditional Chinese / ISBN: 9789865811945
- Audio Narration in Mandarin Chinese: Free on Ximalaya
2. 九九消寒歌 Chinese Poem – Free Printable
The “Nines of Winter” are beautifully described in this Chinese poem, known as 九九消寒歌 or 数九歌!
You can download the lyrics in simplified Chinese, simplified Chinese with Pinyin, traditional Chinese, and traditional Chinese with Pinyin in this link or see below.
九九消寒歌 Chinese Folk Song – Simplified Chinese with Pinyin
一九二九不出手 (Yījiǔ’èrjiǔ bù chūshǒu)
三九四九冰上走 (Sānjiǔsìjiǔ bīng shàng zǒu)
五九六九沿河看柳 (Wǔjiǔliùjiǔ yán hé kàn liǔ)
七九河开八九雁来 (Qījiǔ hé kāi bājiǔ yànlái)
九九加一九，耕牛遍地走 (Jiǔjiǔ jiā yījiǔ, gēng niú biàndì zǒu)
九九消寒歌 Chinese Folk Song – Traditional Chinese with Pinyin
Below, you can see that I have printed 3 of the 4 language versions. The simplified Chinese version with Pinyin is for my reference, while the simplified and traditional versions are for my daughter. Between the 2 scripts, only a couple words are different, but I wanted my daughter to compare them side by side. I am planning on cutting up the poem so that it can be a puzzle for my daughter to complete! 🙂
I had a hard time finding a good YouTube video; this Beva cartoon video has the most clear audio that I could find, but please let me know if you know of a better video! Alternatively, you can just listen to it along with the story on Ximalaya.
3. 九九消寒图 Coloring Activities
九九消寒图 Peach Blossom Flowers
An artistic way to countdown to spring is to draw a peach blossom branch with 9 flowers. Each flower has 9 petals, and one petal is colored per day! I drew this on our easel so that it would stand out in our kids’ play area. However, we will transfer this to paper as my kids will want to use the easel to draw other things! It will be fun to see my daughter try to draw the flowers!
The book gives and overview of the different countdown activities, including the flower drawing.
For this activity, the outline of 9 traditional Chinese character with 9 strokes each are drawn. Each day, one stroke is filled in filled. By the time the calligraphy has been colored completely, winter will be over! Here is the Chinese calligraphy activity alongside the Chinese characters that I printed out for my daughter. Many thanks to the mom in a bilingual Facebook group who shared that she printed the Chinese characters from this Chinese blog.
Is your family celebrating 冬至? What are your family’s traditions and favorite foods for this time of year?
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Happy Winter Solstice / 冬至快乐!