It is the longest night of the year, the shortest day of the year. It is Winter Solstice – known in mandarin as Dong Zhi.
One of my favorite winter solstice adventures was going to the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Classical Gardens yesterday. It was very magical. The Garden was lit with candles and Christmas lights – otherwise – you never see the garden at night because of its early closings.
One of the real coolest things they do is to create lanterns for the bare trees. In each lantern are leaves that fell from the trees during autumn… so they are in effect, hanging the leaves back on the trees – with lights! Very Cool!
There was music at the Gardens… Erhu (Chinese violin) player Ji Rong Huang was playing traditional Chinese and Western tunes in the Water Pavillion of the Gardens. I bought two cd's by Ji Rong… I have to love this guy! First of all, his name is Huang (the Mandarin version of Wong), secondly – He played with Harry Connick Jr. one time, when Harry met him by chance at the Horseshoe Bay Ferry terminal and invited Ji Rong to join him onstage at the Orpheum with his band. Third, he plays Western music, and we agreed to get together sometime to do a duet of Hungarian Dance No. 5.
The Dr. Sen Yat Sen Chinese Classical Gardens writes that:
“In China, the winter solstice festival, dong zhi, is a time when friends and family gather together, exchange gifts, and eat, drink, and laugh long into the deep, dark night to mark the rebirth of yang qualities of light and warmth as winter waxes and spring approaches. Enjoy a magical celebration of Dong zhi at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sun Classical Chinese Garden & Public Park as we host the Secret Lantern Society's 11th Annual Winter Solstice Festival for Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside from 6:30 – 10:00pm. “
see my more detailed 2004 post about Chinese Winter Solstice which includes discussion about my past visits to the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garen