Solar Terms is a calendar of twen1y-four periods and climate to govem agricultural arrangements in ancient China and fundions even now. Today the year comprises 24 Solar Terms. These solar terms hove meaningful titles. In each month there are often two solar terms. The Winter Solstice indicates the period of winter and people always want to keep themselves warm. The Beginning of SUmmer will bring abundant rain and lead directly to the harvest. The Beginning of Spring symbolizes the start of a lunar year and warmer weather. The Clear and Bright Festival is a moment of importance for it is the day on which to worship ancestors. Greater Snow is the day around which we will have dancing snow. For farmers heavy snow foretells a good harvest and so is regarded as auspicious.
A Brief Introduction of Solar Terms
Solar Terms is a calendar of twenty-four periods and climate to govern agricultural arrangements in ancient China and functions even now. As we have mentioned the Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar, it takes into account the longest and the shortest days and the two days each year when the length of the day equals that of the night. In other words, the significant days are the Summer and Winter Solstices and the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes.
What Are “Jie Qi” and “Zhong Qi”
These twenty-four solar terms each suggests the position of the sun every time when it travels 15 degrees on the ecliptic longitude. In each month there are often two solar terms; the first one is generally named “Jie Qi” and the other one “Zhong Qi”. Their dates are mirrored by the Gregorian calendar, so we find that during the first half of a year “Jie Qi” is around the 6th day of a solar month, “Zhong Qi” around the 21 st; in the second half of a year, “Jie Qi” is around the 8th and “Zhong Qi” around the 23rd.
The Winter Solstice
The Winter Solstice indicates the period of winter and people always want to keep themselves warm. In the northern China where the weather can be bitterly cold, our ancestors lacked sufficient warm clothing and would eat hot food to keep warm. Gradually there came a saying that only by eating dumplings can you avoid becoming so frozen that your ears drop off. Thus this custom is still widespread and on that doy we eat steaming hot and delicious dumplings. In China we have a custom of counting nine (“Shu Jiu”), that is, from the Winter Solstice people calculated the number of days until a change of climate came about. Usually nine days is a sectlon, there are a total of nine sections from the first Jiu to the ninth Jiu. In the folldore there is a widely prevailing ballad the general meaning of which is that: in the first and second Jiu (a section of nine days), we can’t take our hands outside; in the third and fourth Jiu we walk on the ice; in the fifth and sixth Jiu we see the light green willow; in the seventh Jiu our river thaws and in the eighth swallows come; in the ninth cattle begin to work.
The Beginning of Summer
The Beginning of Summer will bring abundant rain and lead directly to the harvest. Thus an agricultural adage is that “no rain, no rice” and “no rain, we will hang up the hoe.” In imperial China the emperors would perform a special rite to greet summer on that day. As the hot weather would cause people 10 lose weight and become exhausted it became the custom to weigh and drink tea as this was considered a guard against the torrid weather.