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24 Solar terms – Major Cold

Today, on the 20th of January 2022, we welcome the last solar term that represents winter. It is called Major Cold or 大寒 (Dàhán), but interestingly enough, it is not the coldest period of winter in China. The last years have shown the average temperature during Major Cold to be some degrees higher than during the Minor Cold Solar term – don’t know if we should attribute this to global warming. They say that people should go to bed earlier and wake up later during this period to save the Yang energy inside the body (not a bad reason to come to work later:) ).

During Major Cold, China celebrates the biggest Chinese Festival – the Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, which will kick off in a week and a half this year.

The spirit of Chinese New year is to say goodbye to the old time and welcome the new, bright year ahead. So, starting from the Little New Year (the article is coming soon), people start deep clean the house, the windows, dust all the corners, wash all the clothes and just generally put things to rights.

Besides this, it is very important to prepare yourself for the new year, too, not only your house. So, at this time, you will find all the hair and nails salons full of people. And if you think there will only be women in these places, then you are wrong. The reason is that there is a Chinese saying (superstition) that one should not cut one’s hair during the first lunar month, or else a curse will befall one’s uncle(s). Of course, nowadays, people don’t believe in this saying, but the tradition of getting an image refreshment is still passed down from generation to generation.

As you already know, food means a lot to Chinese people and every period has its “special meal”. Dàhán is no exception. During this time, the Chinese like to eat the following dishes:

Dispelling cold cake is a rice cake which keeps people warm all over their bodies, because its main ingredient is sugar, not rice. Also, “rice cake” is pronounced the same as “higher in a new year”, so people attribute the meaning of good luck and promotion in a new year to it.

Soup is the main dish for the winter period, as already mentioned in some of our previous articles. During Major Cold, the Chinese eat all kinds of soups according to their taste: chicken, beef, mutton and so on. Just choose your favorite and enjoy your meal!

Porridge is another “must-eat” during the cold season. Most varieties have several ingredients that will be very helpful for your body. For example, for blood enriching porridge you have to soak the following ingredient first: red dates, red beans, black rice, peanuts and of course rice. After soaking everything for 40 minutes, you boil it for ten minutes, and add some brown sugar for better taste. At home, you can mix rice, nuts, beans or dry fruits to create the perfect porridge according to your taste.

Do you have a favorite Chinese winter meal so far? Are you ready for the coming Chinese New Year? If you are staying in Shenyang, remember to prepare some food and drink in advance, at least for two or three days, or you will find yourself holding money but unable to enter the doors of the restaurants as most of them will be off for at least a few days during the holiday.

Most important, keep warm and keep positive, the year of the Water Tiger is coming. We hope it will bring good fortune to all of you!

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