Winter Solstice dōng zhì 冬至 Dec 21
During the winter months the earth is closer to the sun.
Due to our elliptical orbit, we are now ~3 million miles closer to the sun than during the summer months. We are the absolute closest around January 4, but more on that in two weeks! The seasons result from the tilt of the earth's axis as it travels its journey. During the winter the North Pole tilts away from the sun resulting in shorter days and longer nights. The winter solstice, considered the start of winter in most western calendars, is around the middle of winter in the Chinese calendar (winter beginning in early November). On the winter solstice yin energy is at its fullest and, conversely, yang is at its most minimal. The Huang Di Nei Jing (the ancient medical text acupuncture is based on) states that winter is a time of "closing and storage" and advises that we "protect the yang". However, just as the days will begin to lengthen, yang energy is now slowly starting to grow.
Energetically, this is a time for attending to ideas, dreaming, and planning. Physically, it is a time for staying rested and keeping warm. According to the Huang Di Nei Jing, it is wise to avoid too many extremes in general, but is especially true at this time, when the spark and vitality of yang energy is still minimal. Nourish your yang with vigorous (but comfortable) rubbing on your scalp, arms, and the tops of your shoulders. Rest, day dream, drink tea, and eat warm foods. Warming foods include: rice jook (congee), tempe, black, adzuki, or mung beans, beef, lamb & ginger, pork bone & peanut soup, scallions, ginger, black pepper. Chai tea, and ginger or chamomile tea with honey are perfect for this time of year. Try this nourishing Black Bean and Seaweed Soup and find instructions on making jook on our "Recipes" page.
*Learn more about yin and yang here.
*Check out the "Five Flavors" and "Seasonal Eating" tips found here.