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What Are China's 24 Solar Terms?

作者:纽带中文

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The 24 solar terms, based on the sun's position in the zodiac, were created by farmers in ancient China to guide the agricultural affairs and farming activities.

The 24 solar terms reflect the changes in climate, natural phenomena, agricultural production, and other aspects of human life, including clothing, food, housing, and transportation.

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Song of 24 solar terms

二十四节气歌:春雨惊春清谷天,夏满芒夏暑相连,秋处露秋寒霜降,冬雪雪冬小大寒。

春季:春雨惊春清谷天

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立春 lì chūn (Feb 4, 2023): Start of Spring, a dubiously premature name, as it's not the beginning of spring in most of China; only in the extreme south.

雨水 yǔ shuǐ (Feb 19, 2023):There is an increase of rainfall from then on.

惊蛰 jīng zhé (Mar 6, 2023):Thunder begins and hibernating insects wake up.

春分 chūn fēn (Mar 21, 2023):With an equal length of day and night.

清明 qīng míng (Apr 5, 2023):It is clear and bright (when it's not raining), and the weather becomes noticeably warmer. A misnomer, particularly in southern China.

谷雨 gǔ yǔ (Apr 20, 2023):The early crops show their shoots.

夏季:夏满芒夏暑相连
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立夏 lì xià (May 6, 2023):The beginning of summer (in southern China).

小满 xiǎo mǎn (May 21, 2023):The seeds of summer crops begin to become plump, but are not yet ripe.

芒种 máng zhǒng (Jun 6, 2023):The wheat becomes ripe; and the summer planting starts (in southern China).

夏至 xià zhì (Jun 21, 2023):The daytime is the longest and the nighttime is the shortest of the year.

小暑 xiǎo shǔ (Jul 7, 2023):The beginning of the hottest period.

大暑 dà shǔ (Jul 23, 2023):It is the time of year when the duration of the sunshine is the longest, the average temperature is the highest, the rainfall is the greatest, and the thunderstorms are the most frequent (in some parts of northern China).

秋季:秋处露秋寒霜降

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立秋lì qiū (Aug 8, 2023)An anomaly: nowhere is this true. Like the "start of spring" it is about a month premature.

处暑 chù shǔ (Aug 23, 2023)The end of the hot summer.

白露 bái lù (Sep 8, 2023)The transition from summer to autumn. The temperature drops sharply, and the autumn rains come.

秋分 qiū fēn (Sep 23, 2023)With an equal length of day and night.

寒露 hán lù (Oct 8, 2023)The weather becomes cold enough to reach dew point, but not cold enough to reach frost point.

霜降 shuāng jiàng (Oct 24, 2023)The weather becomes cold and frost begins to form (in North China).

冬季:冬雪雪冬小大寒

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立冬 lì dōng (Nov 8, 2023)True of northern China, but winter comes later in the south.

小雪 xiǎo xuě (Nov 22, 2023)Snow begins to fall, the weather becomes cold.

大雪 dà xuě (Dec 7, 2023)It snows heavily for the first time in the year (in northern China).

冬至 dōng zhì (Dec 22, 2023)The daytime is the shortest and the nighttime is the longest of the year.

小寒 xiǎo hán (Jan 5, 2024)The weather rapidly reaches its coldest.

大寒 dà hán (Jan 20, 2024)'Major Cold' It is the coldest time of the year.


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Meaning of the 24 solar terms

The solar terms are divided by the variation of natural phenomena, such as seasons, climates and phenology.

1. The four seasons

立春(Start of Spring)、立夏(Start of Summer) 、立秋(Start of Autumn)、立冬(Start of Winter) are used to reflect the change of seasons, dividing the year into four seasons of exactly three months. While this fits an ideal pattern of dates, it does not reflect observable reality in most of China.

2. Altitude of the sun

春分(Vernal Equinox)、秋分(Autumnal Equinox)、夏至(Summer Solstice) 、冬至(Winter Solstice) are divided from an astronomical aspect, reflecting the turning point of the variation of the altitude of the sun.

3. Temperature


小暑(Minor Heat)、大暑(Major Heat)、极限暑(Limit of Heat)、小寒(Minor Cold)、大寒(Major Cold) reflect the changes of temperature in different periods.


4. Precipitation

清明(Clear and Bright)、雨水(Rain Water)、谷雨(Grain Rain)、小雪(Minor Snow)、大雪(Major Snow)、白露(White Dew)、寒露(Cold Dew)、霜降(Frost Descent) reflect the phenomenon of precipitation, indicating the time and intensity of rainfall, snowfall, dew, and frost.

5. Agriculture

小满(五谷)(Small Full (Grain) and 穗中(Grain in Ear) reflect the maturity and harvest time of crops, while Awakening of Insects reflects observed insect activity.

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The 24 solar terms play important roles and have greatly influenced people's basic needs in life, and they still have an important function nowadays.

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