TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Today (Dec. 21) is the Dongzhi (冬至, extreme of winter) Festival or winter solstice, the peak of winter based on the lunisolar calendar, and a Taiwanese feng shui expert and a Taiwanese tarot card master have given some tips on the best ways to ensure good fortune for the coming year.
Yang Teng-kei (楊登嵙), a folk custom expert and the founding chairman of the Taichung Numerology Education Association, said that the ancients said the days will become longer after Dongzhi, meaning that yin energy (陰氣) has reached its peak on this day and henceforth, yang (陽氣) energy will start to strengthen. Yang said that Dongzhi is a good opportunity to attract luck through the following eight lucky methods, reported SETN News:
1. Eat tangyuan for family unity and success
This spherical snack symbolizes the reunion of the whole family and success for the coming year. Red tangyuan symbolizes gold, attracting romance and popularity, while white represents silver, which can attract wealth and prosperous business.
One should eat at least one red and one white tangyuan, which symbolizes reunion and perfection and will lead to happiness in the new year. However, when eating tangyuan, they must be eaten in even numbers in order to have their desired effect on good fortune.
2. Eat wontons to increase wisdom
Eating wontons represents the exchange of fortune from heaven and earth. During this period, the alternation of yin and yang energies is chaotic, thus bad luck can be smoothly turned away. Eating wontons also aids students who have been doing poorly in their studies to become wiser and more mature.
3. Eat jiaozi to expand riches
The shape of jiaozi resembles sycee (silver or gold ingots, 元寶), and eating them implies that one's wealth will expand.
4. Eat vermicelli with pork knuckles for longevity and warding off bad luck
Eating a bowl of vermicelli with pork knuckles on this day is a good way to bring good luck. Children should buy the dish for their parents because it demonstrates filial piety and will bring them longevity while warding off bad luck.
5. Take a tonic of high-calorie foods to build up good luck
In addition to eating tangyuan, people in Taiwan traditionally drink tonics to "warm" their bodies based on the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) core tenet of balancing yin and yang within the body, which in this case means trying to consume foods that are more yang (warm) in nature to counteract the yin (cold) of winter. Taiwanese believe that consuming tonics will help restore vitality to the body, refresh the mind, and draw in good luck.
Examples of tonics that Taiwanese consume during this period that are more yang in nature, include sesame oil chicken soup, ginger duck stew, mutton hotpot, herbal chicken soup, ginseng chicken soup, and silkie chicken soup. This time of year is when chain restaurants which specialize in just these dishes really kick into high gear, with lines out the door and seating for customers spilling onto the sidewalk.
6. Buy new shoes and clothing for harmony and smooth sailing
Dongzhi is also known as "Respect for the Elderly Festival" (敬老節). On this day, children can take their parents out for a walk. Buying new shoes and clothing for parents, particularly parents-in-law, helps improve family bonds and helps one's luck run smoothly.
7. Worship ancestors for prosperity
Dongzhi is considered an ideal time to place offerings to ancestors. Place tangyuan on the ancestral altar and pray for blessings for future generations.
8. Singles can pray for marriage
Single people hoping to find their soul mate can pray on this day to Yue Lao (月老), also known as “the old man under the moon," the god of marriage and love. The best-known temples to Yue Lao in Taipei are Longshan Temple (龍山寺) in Wanhua District and Taipei Xiahai City God Temple (台北霞海城隍廟) in Datong District.
Bowl of red and white Tangyuan. (Taipei City Market Administration Office photo)