2012-12-18    Winter Festival and Christmas


Friday is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Which means Friday night is the longest night of the year. The Winter Festival (冬節) is the second most important festival of the Chinese calendar. It's a time to let workers go home early to prepare a special family meal.

According to one website, this celebration can be traced to the Chinese belief in yin and yang, which represent balance and harmony in life. It is believed that the yin qualities of darkness and cold are at their most powerful at this time. But it's also a  turning point, when darkness and cold give way to the light and warmth of yang. For this reason, the Winter Festival is a time for optimism.

One story I heard:  rain during the Winter Festival means a fine Lunar New Year, but a fine Winter Festival means a rainy LNY. Is this true?  Last year I meant to make a note about whether rain fell during the Winter Festival, but I forgot!  I've now put a note in my diary for December 22 to record this year's Winter Festival weather!

Next Tuesday is Christmas Day, the birthday of Jesus. Born in the middle of Winter, he must have been cold. The Bible says he was born in a stable in the town of  Bethlehem   . There was no room for him and his mother Mary and her husband Joseph at the local hotel. His bed was a manger, a feeding box for animals. For Christians, Jesus' birth was a turning point in world history, a time when the Light entered our world. And so, like the Winter Festival, Christmas also is a time for optimism and joy. I wish all Ming Pao readers a Happy Winter Festival, and a Merry Christmas!