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24 Solar Terms in Chinese Calendar 

The Chinese Traditional Calendar consists of 24 Solar Terms, corresponding to the sun’s position in the ecliptic and serving as an accurate guide for agriculture throughout China's history.


Every 15° apart along the ecliptic, a solar term represents a season, temperature, agricultural, and natural phenomena.  


Generally, each lunar month contains two solar terms, and each solar term in Chinese culture is accompanied by many poems describing it and specific customs. 


During the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC — 1046 BC), the first four terms were established to represent the four seasons, later evolving into eight.


In 104 BC, the Twenty-Four Solar Terms were officially established and widely applied in the history of China. 

Beginning of Spring


3rd to 5th of February 

When the spring breeze sways the ground, the whole world regains vitality. This is the day of beginning and hope in the Chinese Calendar. 


In the history of China, emperors held grand ceremonies to welcome spring and pray for a bountiful harvest. Civilians also celebrated the seeding season by placing clay-made cattle in front of the east gate of the city wall. After sacrifice rites, people would whip the clay cattle and then take some pieces home, symbolizing an upcoming bumper year.


The favored dish on this day is the Spring Pancake, a delicate wrapper with delicious stuffing. Nowadays, the ceremony of whipping clay cattle only exists in some villages, but the Spring Pancake is still quite famous. 


Colorful paper cutting and decorations are widely used in many places. These Spring decorations can be attached to windows and front doors or used as hair ornaments and armlets, symbolizing the arrival of the splendid season.

Beginning of Spring of Chinese Solar Terms, Li Chun.

Rain Water

18th to 20th of February


The mild breeze brings warmth and melts snow and ice; the air becomes moister when more rain falls on earth.


Then comes the Rain Water solar term, when various plants grow, and wild geese fly back to the north. This is a good time for sowing. 


In addition to working hard on the farmland, people also consider this day a time to seek blessings and show gratitude, as the early spring water is quite valuable and nourishes the earth.


On this day, some parents will search for a loving godfather for their children, someone who could help bless their kids.


In the past, they used to find a friendly stranger on the street, but now it's typically done among acquaintances.


Additionally, married couples visit the wives' parents with different gifts, expressing gratitude for raising these incredible women. 

Rain Water of Chinese Solar Terms, Yu Shui.

Awakening of Insects

5th to 7th of March


With the temperature rising, the spring thunder awakens animals from hibernation.


On the day of the Awakening of Insects, according to Chinese custom, people hold a ceremony to worship the God of Thunder and pray for proper rainwater throughout the year.  


In an agricultural society, plagues of insects could cause severe damage. So, expelling harmful insects, both from houses and farmland, held significant importance in the history of China.


During this period, various methods of insect elimination activities are applied, with fumigation being the most widely accepted.  

The pronunciation of "Pear" is similar to "Leave" in the Chinese language; hence, eating pears on this day means that all the insects and bad luck would be leaving the family. 

Waking of Insects of Chinese Solar Terms, Jing Zhe.

Spring Equinox

20th to 22nd of March

The Spring Equinox marks the midpoint of spring when the length of the day equals that of the night.


In Chinese history, emperors would hold a ceremony to worship the sun, while civilians would honor and memorialize their ancestors. 


On this day, people would attempt to make eggs stand straight, as a fun game.


Flying kites is another popular activity, especially among women and children.


When the kite soars high, people cut the string, letting the kite drift with the wind to symbolize the removal of bad luck.


In some parts of China, people write their wishes on kites and release them into the sky, hoping that the immortals will take notice and bless their dreams to come true. 

Spring of Equinox of Chinese Solar Terms, Chun Fen.

Pure Brightness

4th to 6th of April


During this term, the weather turns clear, warm, and cool, signaling the beginning of growth in all aspects. It becomes a busy time for cultivation in farmlands. 

In a tale of betrayal and loyalty, Prince Ji Chonger (697 BC — 628 BC) was framed, exiled, and later saved by his loyal follower Jie. Overcoming adversities, Ji reclaimed his throne and honored his followers, but Jie, living in seclusion, eventually sacrificed himself in a fire. Many believed he incarnated into a beautiful willow tree that grew from the flames.


This epic yet tragic story gave rise to the tradition of eating cold food and snapping willow twigs on this solemn day.


As time passed, it gradually evolved into an important festival, Qingming, dedicated to sweeping the tombs of the deceased and honoring ancestors.


Additionally, due to the pleasant weather of this period, popular activities include tree planting, hiking, flying kites, and playing on swings.

Pure Brightness of Chinese Solar Terms, Qing Ming.

Grain Rain


19th to 21st of April


In Chinese culture, the rain during this solar term is believed to nourish all types of grains throughout the growing season.

Legend has it that thousands of years ago, after Cang Jie had created Chinese Characters, countless grains fell from the sky to celebrate this great invention.


Since then, this day has been named Grain Rain.

During the Tang Dynasty (618 — 907), a brave young man saved a beautiful peony from a flood. Later, this flower, known as the Fairy of Peony, incarnated into a wonderful woman and fell in love with the young man.


Before their wedding day, the fairy and many of her friends were captured by a demon. The young man fought bravely, defeated the evil, and rescued the flower fairies, but he also sacrificed himself.


Born and departed on the date of Grain Rain, this brave young man is remembered each year as millions of peonies bloom on the Grain Rain day, symbolizing the fairy's eternal love.

Grain Rain of Chinese Solar Terms, Gu Yu.

Beginning of Summer


5th to 7th of May


As the temperature continues to rise and everything flourishes, summer begins.


Chinese emperors would hold ceremonies to welcome this season and award ice stored from the previous winter to essential officials. 


Children engage in a fun game called Doudan, where they use boiled eggs to hit each other's eggs to see which ones are stronger, and then eat the eggs afterward.


In Chinese culture, it is believed that eating boiled eggs on this day can protect kids from summer diseases.


Another custom during this period is to weigh at noon, with people praying for long life and good luck. 

Beginning of summer of Chinese Solar Terms, Li Xia.

Grain Buds


20th to 22nd of May


When grains are complete but still immature, the term 'Grain Buds,' also known as the 'Lesser Fullness of Grain' in the Chinese Calendar, arrives.


On this day, Chinese people would start using water wheels to irrigate their farmland.


In some places of China, people worship the God of Water Cart, a white dragon, to pray for adequate rainfall.


In southern China, it is believed that Grain Buds is the birthday of the Fairy of Silkworm.


Therefore, they also hold a worship ceremony to pray for the health and productivity of their precious silkworms.

Grain Buds of Chinese Solar Terms, Xiao Man.

Grain in Ear


5th to 7th of June


In the Chinese Calendar, this marks the time to harvest awn crops and sow millet crops, typically a hectic season in the agricultural society.


It is also the day to bid farewell to the Fairy of Flowers as many blossoms fade.


On this day, women would dress up and decorate trees and flowers with various colorful pendants to express gratitude for the beauty these fairies brought to the world. This was an essential custom in the history of China.


The making of Green Plum Soup is also popular. After being boiled with icing sugar, licorice, or salt, these fresh plums taste both sweet and sour, creating a delicious and healthy beverage for the hot summer. 

Grain in Ear of Chinese Solar Terms, Mang Zhong.

Summer Solstice


21st to 22nd of June


Summer Solstice marks the turning point of the sun, when the northern hemisphere experiences the longest daytime, and most crops are in their prime.


On this day, Chinese emperors and officials held sacrificial ceremonies to worship the land and pray for fortune and harvest.


Simultaneously, civilians honored their ancestors and enjoyed various foods.


While these ceremonies no longer exist, the tradition of indulging in delicious food persists.


In Northern China, people savor cold noodles on this day, while those in the south prefer Wonton. 

Meanwhile, in certain regions, women exchange ornate fans infused with scented powder to prevent prickly heat.

Summer Solstice of Chinese Solar Terms, Xia Zhi.

Minor Heat


6th to 8th of July


During the Minor Heat term, the weather becomes hot, prompting Chinese people to take out and expose most of their belongings to the sun.


This practice aims to dehumidify items and prevent moths and mold.


Children remove the five-color strings they had worn since the Dragon Boat Festival, with many tossing the strings onto the roof for magpies to take away.


Then, on the Double Seventh Festival, the only day when the separated fairy and her husband are allowed to meet, these magpies would use the countless five-color strings to create a beautiful bridge over the galaxy for them. 

Slight Heat of Chinese Solar Terms, Xiao Shu.

Major Heat


22nd to 24th of July


The Major Heat term is the most scorching period, accompanied by a significant amount of rainfall.


In certain southern regions of China, people would construct a large wooden boat filled with various types of food, known as the Boat of Heat.


They then send it down the river and set it ablaze when it reaches the sea.


By doing this, they believe that the scorching weather and bad luck will depart with the boat.


After this ritual, they anticipate improved weather conditions and a reduction in the risk of floods.


Meanwhile, people would try different methods to stay cool and consume foods believed to alleviate the heat, such as watermelon, mutton, and bean jelly.

Great Heat of Chinese Solar Terms, Da Shu.

Beginning of Autumn


7th to 9th of August


When the cool breeze arrives and the leaves of the Phoenix Tree fall, autumn finally comes.


In the past, the royals would hold a grand ceremony to welcome autumn and worship former great monarchs, while civilians used their newly harvested foods to honor their ancestors. 


This is the harvest season, so Chinese people also worship the God of the Land to express gratitude. After finishing the harvest with collective effort, they take their produce to the market to sell.


Farmers gather and share watermelon or other local foods, a tradition named the Bite of Autumn, aimed at dispelling bad luck and celebrating the year's hard work.

In some southern regions of China, people spread their food and sun-dry it to dehumidify. 


Another enjoyable custom is indulging in more food to gain weight, believed to help people endure the harsh winter. However, this practice was popular only in older times.

Beginning of Autumn of Chinese Solar Terms, Li Qiu.

End of Heat


22nd to 24th of August

In the term End of Heat, the hot weather will soon dissipate, eagles begin preying on birds, and most crops are fading in northern China.


Meanwhile, it is also an excellent season for hiking and traveling, given the cool and comfortable weather, and peasants have finished harvesting.

The Ghost Festival falls in this term when the gate to another world opens, allowing the departed to revisit the world they left. Therefore, it is an important day for offering sacrifices to ancestors.


Some religious sites of Taoism and Buddhism also hold ceremonies for homeless ghosts whom no one remembers.


The beautiful river lamp is another way to commemorate and bless the departed, and to assist nameless ghosts in finding their way to reincarnation.


Lotus-shaped river lamps are believed to guide every spirit to a positive outcome.

End of Heat of Chinese Solar Terms, Chu Shu.

White Dew


7th to 9th of September

With the weather getting colder during White Dew, glittering dew appears on many plants.


Wild geese and swallows set off to the south, while other animals begin storing food for the upcoming winter.

In some southern places of China, an essential custom of that day is to hold a big worship ceremony for the God of Water named Yu the Great, the hero who conquered massive floods and founded the first dynasty in China.


Since autumn is a good season for the fishing industry, people believe that Yu could protect them, ensuring safety and a good harvest.


In some other places, people collect ten types of white-colored food and eat them on White Dew day, believing it can help them stay healthy and lucky.

White Dew of Chinese Solar Terms, Bai Lu.

Autumn Equinox


22nd to 24th of September

The Autumn Equinox marks the midpoint of autumn when the length of daytime equals nighttime.


From royals to civilians, all Chinese people worship the moon on this day.

The moon worship ceremony gradually evolved into the Mid-Autumn Festival on the 15th of August in the Chinese Calendar, when the moon is beautiful and perfect.

Seasonal vegetables, fruits, and Glue Pudding are the most popular foods for this day.


Flying kites and attempting to make eggs stand straight are also popular activities in some places in China.

Autumn Equinox of Chinese Solar Terms, Qiu Fen.

Cold Dew


8th to 9th of October

Cold Dew marks the onset of colder weather when dew becomes more plentiful, and chrysanthemum blossoms grace the landscape.

As Cold Dew closely precedes the Double Ninth Festival, these occasions share many similar activities deeply rooted in Chinese culture, including climbing mountains, drinking chrysanthemum wine, and indulging in flower cakes.

Cold Dew of Chinese Solar Terms, Han Lu.

Frost's Descent


23rd to 24th of October

During the Frost's Descent period, a layer of frost blankets the land, and the grass turns yellow, signaling the imminent arrival of winter.


Frost is representative of sternness and solemnity, making it historically a favorable season for training troops and hunting.


A favorite civilian activity during this time is appreciating chrysanthemums, the most beautiful flowers of the season, with family and close friends.


Eating persimmons is believed to be an excellent way to prevent colds and flu as the weather turns colder.


In some regions of China, popular food choices also include duck, taro, or mutton.

Frost Descent of Chinese Solar Terms, Shuang Jiang.

Beginning of Winter


7th to 8th of November

The sight of water freezing indicates the Beginning of Winter.


In ancient times, Chinese emperors would hold a ceremony to welcome the winter, offering prayers for those who sacrificed in protecting the country, and subsequently awarding clothes and hats to officials.


On this day, in addition to the typical ceremony to worship ancestors, people would burn five-colored paper, a tradition still observed in many places in China. It is believed that departed ancestors in the other world could use these colorful papers to make warm clothes for the upcoming winter. 


Following these rituals, families would gather to feast, celebrating the year's harvest.


In some regions, people would engage in divination to predict the following year's agricultural production.

In the agricultural society of the past, winter was a relatively less busy season. During this time, winter sessions in schools were popular, and many children began to acquire knowledge.

Beginning of Winter of Chinese Solar Terms, Li Dong.

Minor Snow


22nd to 23rd of November

Minor Snow marks the period when the weather starts to get colder, and precipitation increases.

In most northern regions of China, many rivers begin to freeze, prompting farmers to engage in the production of agricultural sidelines, such as making pickled vegetables and crafting wine.

Simultaneously, they employ various methods to protect trees and lands from the encroaching cold.

People also prepare and indulge in a food called Ciba, made from sticky rice with delicious stuffing.

Light Snow of Chinese Solar Terms, Xiao Xue.

Major Snow


6th to 8th of December

When precipitation becomes heavier and many animals begin to hibernate, it signals the arrival of the Major Snow term. 


On this day, people start pickling meat in preparation for the Chinese New Year.


It is also believed that this day is an excellent time to indulge in fine foods to gain more energy and prevent illnesses in cold weather, such as lamb, local fruits, or porridge.

Major Snow of Chinese Solar Terms, Da Xue.

Winter Solstice


21st to 23rd of December

Among the 24 solar terms, the Winter Solstice was the first to be established in the history of China.

Over 3000 years ago, Ji Dan, the regent of the Zhou Dynasty, attempted to use a Gui (a timekeeping tool) to locate a central city where they planned to set their new capital.


Discovering that the length of the sun’s shadow is the longest on the Winter Solstice day, they designated this day as the beginning of the new year, a tradition that persisted until Emperor Wu of Han (156 BC — 87 BC) introduced another calendar system.


It is believed that this day marks the fading away of Yin and the growth of Yang, signifying a lucky day to celebrate.


On the Winter Solstice, Chinese emperors would lead officials in holding a grand ceremony to worship heaven, while civilians exchange greetings.


The favorite food in northern regions of China for this day is dumplings, while in the south, glue puddings and noodles are popular.


Other favored foods for this term include mutton, red beans, pumpkin, sticky rice, and more.

Winter Solstice of Chinese Solar Terms, Dong Zhi.

Minor Cold


5th to 7th of January

In many northern regions of China, Minor Cold represents the coldest time of the year.


Meanwhile, Plum Blossom, known as the fighter in winter, begins to bloom.

The Spring Festival, the most important holiday in China, is not far from the Minor Cold.


Therefore, from that day onward, people start preparing everything for the Chinese New Year, including fireworks, lucky paper cuts, and holiday couplets.

Lesser Cold of Chinese Solar Terms, Xiao Han.

Major Cold


20th to 21st of January

The Major Cold brings the most frigid weather, especially in southern China. Meanwhile, it signals the end of winter.


Farmers prepare for next year's planting, while others continue with preparations and celebrations for the Spring Festival. 

Click to Read More about Spring Festival Preparations

Great Cold of Chinese Solar Terms, Da Han.

Illustration pictures of 24 Solar Terms are designed by Shi Changhong; photographs are taken by Zhou Jie.

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