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The 24 solar terms: part one

| 2015-01-22 | Hits:
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

Chinese plum blossom trees come into bloom in North China during Li Chun, which marks the beginning of spring.


The 24 solar terms were determined by the changes of the sun’s position in the zodiac all through the year. A complete circle of the changes was divided into 24 segments, and each segment is about half a month. In the lunar calendar, the date of each solar term is basically fixed, with minor changes within one or two days. As a reflection of the regularity of the changes of the climate in the areas of the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River, the 24 solar terms are still being used by the farmers.

Li Chun:  Beginning of Spring
The first solar term Li Chun represents the beginning of the spring season. It usually happens between Feb. 2 and Feb. 5 when the sun reaches the celestial longitude of 315 degrees. When Li Chun arrives, days get longer and sunlight gets warmer. Temperature, the length of sunlight and the amount of rainfall are all at the turning points of the year. When spring comes, the natural world is revitalizing and all things are flourishing. People should open the windows more frequently to allow the air to circulate and take more physical exercises to enhance their immunity.

Yu Shui:  Beginning of Rainfall
When the sun reaches the celestial longitude of 330 degrees, the solar term of Yu Shui arrives. It indicates that as the weather gets warmer, the amount of rainfall increases. It usually happens on Feb. 18 or Feb. 19 and ends on Mar. 4 or Mar. 5. When the season comes, the otter starts fishing, the wild goose flies back to north from south and grass and trees start to sprout. As the rainfall increases, dampness invades the spleen. It’s very important to protect the spleen during this period by eating foods that would help to dispel wind and eliminate dampness inside one’s body.

Jing Zhe:  Waking of Hibernating Insects and Small Animals
Jing Zhe means that insects are awaken from winter sleep by the sound of thunder. It happens when the sun reaches the celestial longitude of 345 degrees on Mar. 5 or Mar. 6. After this day, thunders begin to appear all over China and the sound awakens all kinds of hibernating insects hiding in the soil. As contemporary scientific research shows, what really makes the insects awaken is the increasing temperature of the soil. It’s the best time to eat food which may help peace down the five internal organs especially liver and spleen. It’s better to eat food with more vegetable protein rather than those with adipose.

Chun Fen: Spring Equinox
The Chun Fen arrives around Mar. 21 every year and on this day, the sun is vertically above a point on the equator. Chun Fen indicates two meanings. Firstly, on this day, the night and day are approximately equally long with 12 hours each. Secondly, it’s the mid-point for the spring season. People should pay more attention to the balance of Yin Qi and Yang Qi in human’s body. To balance Yin and Yang, the human body requires both “supplying” and “releasing.” During this period, people should also pay attention to symptoms such as menstrual disorder, allergy, high blood pressure and so on.