The Chinese culture has been inherited for more than two thousand years and has brought up great wisdoms in everyday life. The Chinese lunar calendar 农历 (Nónglì) is one of the most distinctive wisdoms based on the Chinese observation toward the sun and the moon.
However, the lunar calendar 农历 (Nónglì) does not precisely reflect the regulation of the sun. In order to solve some agricultural problems, ancient Chinese farmers had to discover another regulation of the Earth and used it as the supplement of the lunar calendar. Just like how the ancestors made the lunar calendar, the ancient Chinese farmers had discovered the regulation of the sun and then framed out a set of solar terms 节气 (jiéqì) which has then been followed by the later Chinese. If you look closely enough at the Chinese calendar, you may find printed some two-character words for some particular days, that is, the twenty-four solar terms 二十四节气 (Èrshísì jiéqì).
The twenty-four solar terms 二十四节气 (Èrshísì jiéqì), or the round solar terms, are set up seasonally. Each term describes a particular climate 气候 (qìhòu) in a month. Chinese farmers use these terms as weather broadcasts or reminders for growing plants or grain. Some solar terms also become traditional Chinese customs in a year such as the Tomb-Sweeping Festival 清明节 (Qīngmíng jié) and the custom of eating “yuanxiao” 元宵 (yuánxiāo), or rice-flour balls, on Winter Solstice 冬至 (dōngzhì).
Due to the climate change, this solar calendar may no longer be accurate, however, it still reminds us of the ancient Chinese wisdom in climate routines and the importance of cultural and environmental protection 环保 (huánbǎo).
*Check the list of solar terms below and see which solar term is coming!
List of solar terms:
|NAME (pin yin)||DATES (vary throughout the year)||TRANSLATION||NOTES|
|立春 lìchūn||Feb. 3, 4 or 5||start of spring||creatures are alive|
|雨水 yǔshuǐ||Feb. 18, 19 or 20||rain water||snow melts into water|
|惊蛰 jīngzhé||Mar. 5, 6 or 7||awakening of insects||the spring thunder wakes up the hibernating insects|
|春分 chūnfēn||Mar. 20, 21 or 22||vernal equinox||the day and night are bisected|
|清明 qīngmíng||Apr. 4, 5 or 6||clear and bright||plants thrive as it gets warm and clear (time for tending graves)|
|谷雨 gǔyǔ||Apr. 19, 20 or 21||grain rain||grains need the rain to nurture|
|立夏 lìxià||May 5, 6 or 7||start of summer||as the summer begins, it rains more|
|小满 xiǎomǎn||May 20, 21 or 22||grain full||when the rice is fully grown|
|芒种 mángzhòng||June 5, 6 or 7||grain has ears||when the grain has ears|
|夏至 xiàzhì||June 20, 21 or 22||summer solstice||when the daytime is the longest|
|小暑 xiǎoshǔ||July 6, 7 or 8||minor heat||it starts to get hot|
|大暑 dàshǔ||July 22, 23 or 24||major heat||the heat reaches the climax|
|立秋 lìqiū||Aug. 7, 8 or 9||start of autumn||it starts to cool down|
|处暑 chǔshǔ||Aug. 22, 23 or 24||limit of heat||the summer heat is diminished|
|白露 báilù||Sep. 7, 8 or 9||white dew||the water vapors are condensed into white dew|
|秋分 qiūfēn||Sep. 22, 23 or 24||autumnal equinox||when the autumn was half past|
|寒露 hánlù||Oct. 7, 8 or 9||cold dew||the cold night makes the water vapors condense into colder dew|
|霜降 shuāngjiàng||Oct. 23 or 24||frost’s descent||frost descends as it gets cold|
|立冬 lìdōng||Nov. 7 or 8||start of winter||it’s a custom to take herbal tonics for extra nourishment|
|小雪 xiǎoxuě||Nov. 21, 22 or 23||minor snow||it snows slightly|
|大雪 dàxuě||Dec. 6, 7 or 8||major snow||there is greater snow|
|冬至 dōngzhì||Dec. 21, 22 or 23||winter solstice||when the night-time is the shortest. People on that day eat rice-flour balls symbolizing the reunion|
|小寒 xiǎohán||Jan. 5, 6 or 7||minor cold||it gets colder after the winter solstice|
|大寒 dàhán||Jan. 19, 20 or 21||major cold||the coldest day of a year; also symbolizes the coming of the spring|
Information cited from: