Winter is officially here. It’s time to bust out those Uggs and muffs. The locals have a few superstitions about the beginning of winter. Whether you believe them is all up to you…
Dumplings. A legend has it that at the end of the Han Dynasty a famous doctor saved many people in Henan province from a typhoid epidemic, and their ears' from being frostbitten around the start of winter. He cooked mutton, hot peppers, and herbs to dispel the cold and increase body heat. He wrapped these ingredients into a dough skin and made them into an ear shape. Sound familiar? Since then, people have learned to make the food which became known as "dumpling". Today there is still a saying that goes "eat dumplings at the start of winter, or your ears will be frostbitten".
Offering sacrifices to the ancestors. When the autumn crops have been stored it’s time to celebrate for the people of the Manchu Eight Banners and Han Eight Banners in Liaoning province. Incense was burned and sacrifices offered to ancestors. The Eight Banners (baqi) were administrative/military divisions during the Qing Dynasty.
Welcoming winter in the old way. The beginning of each season is celebrated with festivals in ancient times. Before the start of winter, the 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."
Nourishing the winter. It’s a Southern custom from Fujian, Guangdong, and Taiwan. During the start of winter, people would eat high-calorie food such as chicken, beef, mutton, and duck which are usually stewed in Chinese medicine. It’s believed that the soup will enhance nourish the body and better prepare you for winter. Whether that’s true or not, it sure is tasty.
Chinese pumpkins. And we’re back to dumplings again. In our neighboring city of Tianjin the locals eat dumplings stuffed with Chinese pumpkins that they’ve purchased in the summer and stored until the start of winter.
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