Summer Solstice: Celebrating Dumpling Festival on June 21st 2023

Summer Solstice or Dumpling Festival (夏至 Xiàzhì) falls on June 21st this year, marking the arrival of summer. This is the longest day of the year that coincides with the harvest season for wheat. Although Summer Solstice is based on the solar calendar, it almost always falls in the 5th lunar month which is considered an unlucky month, as this is when the ‘five poisonous creatures (五毒wǔdú) – centipedes, scorpions, snakes, toads, and spiders begin to emerge from their winter hibernation and become more active. This time of the year brings increased humidity and monsoons with thunder and heavy rain. Due to weather fluctuations, there is also an increased risk of poisonous insect bites, natural disasters and illnesses in the months after summer solstice.

Several important customs are thus observed as gratitude for a good harvest, to ensure a continued smooth sailing year and to boost internal health.



The most common custom is preparing and eating sticky rice dumplings (Bak Chang). Families get together to produce large batches of dumplings made with glutinous rice, meats, beans and other fillings. These are wrapped in triangular or rectangular shapes within lotus leaves and tied with soaked reeds or colorful strings, some of which are then given out to friends as gifts. The flavors of the dumplings are usually different from one region to another across Asia. These dumplings are unique in that they have a fairly long shelf life without the need for refrigeration.


The body functions at its best when there is a good balance of yin and yang; hot and cold. During Summer Solstice, there is a tendency for the body to retain a lot of heat, resulting in symptoms such as sore throats, mouth ulcers and acne. Therefore, Chinese families make it a point to load up on foods that are “cooling” in nature to bring the body back into balance. Some popular ones include:

    Apart from being symbols of good fortune, preserved cabbage, cold sesame oil noodles, pickled cucumber as well as pea cake are also believed to decrease the internal heat of the body. These eradicate toxins while nourishing the body. Bitter dishes, for example those that include bitter melon 苦瓜 (kǔguā), are particularly popular at this time of the year.
    Summer Solstice Eggs are hard boiled eggs soaked in Chinese Herbal Tea, believed to help one “resist heatiness” (抵抗酷暑 dǐkàng kùshǔ).
    This is a common soup drunk to alleviate the negative effects of hot weather on the body. Here is a traditional recipe for making your own:

Qing Bu Liang Soup Recipe


  • 1½ pounds pork bones
  • 4 slices fresh old ginger (cut ⅛-inch thick)
  • 45 grams dried Chinese yam (huai shan, 淮山 or shan yao, 山药)
  • 60 grams Chinese pearl barley (da mai, 大麦 or yi mi, 薏米 or yi ren, 薏仁)
  • 25 grams dried lotus seeds (lian zi, 莲子)
  • 20 grams fox nut barley (qian shi, 芡实)
  • 10 grams dried goji berries (gou ji, 枸杞)
  • 15 grams polygonatum odoratum ( yu zhu, 玉竹)
  • 10 grams dried longan (gui yuan rou, 桂圆肉)
  • 2 dried honey dates (mi zao, 蜜枣)
  • 1 large piece of dried seafood (such as dried squid, dried abalone, and/or dried scallop)
  • 3 quarts cold water
  • Salt (to taste)


Wash the pork bones with hot Water and place in a big soup pot. Add the rest of the ingredients and three quarts of cold water. Bring everything to a gentle boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer for 3 hours.


Before serving, skim off any fat from the surface of the soup. Add Salt to taste, and serve hot.


Summer Solstice is an auspicious day to worship household deities. As June 21st is also White Tara Day, chanting the mantra of White Tara, the Buddha of Long Life, and making offerings at her altar purifies all negative karma and brings wisdom and good fortune into your life. Offer her 3 bowls of water, flowers and perfumes. Then, offer her some agarwood incense while chanting her mantra. Her mantra is:

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Mama Ayuh Punya Jnana Pustime Kuru Svaha (108 times)


It is advised that one should sleep late and wake up before dawn, and take an afternoon nap during summer to increase energy levels. Exercise should be done in the early mornings or after dusk in parks and near rivers where fresh air is abundant. Be careful not to overdo things as this can lead to exercise sweating, weaken your yin energy (阴气 yīnqì) and increase the chances of heat stroke.