Every year on either December 21, 22 or 23, China celebrates the Winter Solstice, also known as the Winter Festival. The specific celebration day depends on which day the sun lays at a longitude of 270°, which equates to the shortest day (and longest night) of the year.
The Winter Festival is a time when families come together and go to a place of worship to pray for their ancestors. The celebrations culminate with a large dinner and the cuisine during the festival is very specific.
In the North of China, the tradition is to eat hot dumplings or soup as this is how in ancient times people brought warmth to their bodies. In the South of China, the tradition is to eat red bean and glutinous rice to ward off evil spirits. If a family member or friend extends an invitation to their Winter Solstice celebration, remember to look up the family history as this will clue you into the food you should bring to the table!