Chinese 24 Solar Terms and Winter Solstice (Dongzhi Festival)
Dec 12, 2017 04:28
Winter’s coming in the Northern Hemisphere! And speaking of winter, there’s winter solstice, or midwinter, an astronomical phenomenon that has the shortest daytime and longest nighttime of the year. Winter Solstice in Chinese culture, also known as “Dongzhi” (冬至, Dōngzhì), is coming this year on December 22nd, which would be one of the annual celebrated festivals for Chinese people. The word “Dongzhi” in Chinese language literally means “Winter arrives.” The 24 solar terms (二十四节气, Èrshísì jiéqì) originated in China and now is spread to other Eastern Asia Taiwan, Japan, Korea, etc. In Chinese calendar, the 24 solar terms classify each season into six phases matching with the specific periods of time. For example, in Spring, there is “Start of Spring (立春, Lìchūn)”, “Spring Rain (雨水, Yǔshuǐ)” in February, “Awakening of Insects (惊蛰, jīngzhé)” in March, and so on. The Winter Solstice, too, is one of the solar terms in December.

So why did Chinese ancestors invent this 24 solar terms with the specific date matching with the climate conditions? In the ancient China, farming is the main activity which climate and weather take important roles. Therefore, the ancient Chinese observed the changes of the moving positions of sun and moon, realized the regulation of climate and weather conditions, and divided the year into 24 periods. The detailed natural phenomenon of each term is recorded and served as a principle when people’s farming, fishing, and even what to eat to make people healthy, even nowadays.
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