A season for all

People of Adelaide

Posted on 21 Oct 2019

As a culturally diverse community, Christmas is just one of several significant events recognised in Adelaide in December. Discover a little about two other cultural festivals occurring and how some locals will celebrate them.

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L-R: Yunrui Zhou & Yik Kan Wong.

Dongzhi Festival

Yik Kan Wong - from Hong Kong, Support Worker, Chinese Welfare Services of SA Inc

29-year-old Yik Kan has been living in Adelaide since 2007. After finishing a Master of Social Work Degree at Flinders University in 2018, he’s now working at the city-based Chinese Welfare Services of SA Inc, which supports the settlement and social participation of migrants of Chinese descent.

This year, on Sunday 22 December 2019, Yik Kan will be among many within Adelaide’s Chinese community marking Dongzhi, the Chinese winter solstice festival promoting harmony and positivity.

“Dongzhi is based on the Chinese calendar (lunisolar calendar) and marks the day each year with the shortest period of daylight and the longest period of night-time. Depending on where you live in China, Dongzhi can be marked with different styles of celebration but we are all from the same spirit.”
Yik Kan Wong

In Hong Kong, Dongzhi is seen as a time for family reunion.

“We’d get together and have dinner over the long night period and we’d eat the Chinese dessert tangyuan. These are glutinous rice balls symbolising family unity or prosperity.”

Tangyuan i Stock 915578754

The Chinese dessert tangyuan.

Served warm, tangyuan can have different fillings – cane sugar, peanut paste or sesame paste – and can be brightly coloured. It can be found at most Asian groceries in the city.

This year, Yik Kan will mark Donghzi in Adelaide by gathering with friends to make fresh tangyuan together and enjoying it at home along with a shared hot pot meal. He’s also planning to spend time with friends through the Adelaide festive season, visiting the Christmas Tree at Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga and enjoying a traditional Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve at home.

Yunrui Zhou - from Guangzhou, Flinders University Graduate

26-year-old Yunrui has been living and studying in Adelaide since July 2016 and loves the city’s peaceful environment. Last year she completed a Master of Social Work degree at Flinders University and is working casually while applying for social work positions. 

In her hometown of Guangzhou in mainland China in the southern province of Guangdong, Yunrui would also mark Dongzhi by gathering with her family. Along with paying thanks to the earth on this day, a family’s ancestors are remembered and honoured.

“At my family home we have wooden plaques with our ancestor’s names on them, where we worship regularly. On Dongzhi, a more formal worship takes place where we place fruit and meat in front of the plaques and thank our ancestors for protecting us and wish for health for all the family.”

This year, without immediate family around, Yunrui and her five housemates will also mark Donghzi in Adelaide by cooking up the glutinous rice balls, tangyuan, as a dessert.

Last year, Yunrui was invited to spend Christmas Day in Adelaide with a local family and went to the seashore for a relaxation.

“It was really nice for me to participate in an Australian-style Christmas and see the family bonds between parents, their children and their extended family. Christmas in the summer, that’s unique!”
Yunrui Zhou


Sam Hanzalik, city worker / student

Adl living 765

Sam Hanzalik.

Raised in a Jewish family in Adelaide, Sam feels he gets to enjoy a double celebration in December. While he doesn’t partake in all the traditional Jewish rituals, he does mark Hanukkah with his family while also spending Christmas Day with friends.

The Jewish Festival of Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem which needed to be purified after being desecrated. Hanukkah celebrates the miracle that occurred in the purification process where one day’s worth of oil was used to keep the Temple menorah (a traditional Jewish candelabrum) lit for eight whole days and nights.


The lighting of the menorah.

The lighting of the menorah remains key to the Hanukkah celebrations today. Each menorah has nine candle holders. Every night of Hanukkah, another candle is added after sundown. The ninth candle, usually located in the middle, is used to light the others.

“When I was younger and living at home, Hanukkah was a much bigger event for the family. Everyone would get together to celebrate, there would be little presents given to us and it was a really good time.

“Now, during the eight days of Hanukkah, my two brothers and I will get together with my parents on one night where we’ll light the menorah, share a meal and always eat latkes – which are a traditional fried potato pancake.”
Sam Hanzalik

This year, Hannukah begins on the evening of Sunday 22 December 2019 and ends on the evening of Monday 30 December 2019.

Adelaide - a Welcoming City

The City of Adelaide is proud to embrace and celebrate cultural diversity. In 2018 Adelaide became the first capital city in Australia to sign up to Welcoming Cities – a growing network of cities, shires, towns and municipalities committed to welcoming and inclusion.

Within the CBD and North Adelaide, the City of Adelaide operates a number of Community Centres which are popular gathering spaces for people from a kaleidoscope of cultures.

Year-round the Community Centres offer a wide range of community- led activities including programs, workshops, services and events – among them shared multicultural meals, language classes, relaxation sessions, art exhibitions and creative workshops.

Visit our Community Centres webpage for contact details and the latest information on events and how to book spaces for your own community activity. 

Article by

Skye Murtagh

Skye Murtagh

Skye is Adelaide Living's main driving force. She is passionate about sharing stories from all walks of life. When she's not busy weaving beautiful words together, she's singing a line or two from her favourite song.