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24 Solar Terms – Spring Equinox

In our last Chinese solar term article, we have introduced you the Awakening of Insects, and today we want to share some information of Spring Equinox with you.

Spring Equinox starts in 2022 from tomorrow, March 20th. It is the time when the whole eastern part of the world welcomes 春分 (Chūnfēn in Pinyin), or Spring Equinox in English translation. Following the Beginning of Spring, Rain Water and Awakening of Insects, the Spring Equinox is the fourth term in the Chinese lunar calendar. This time is marked by having the same length of day and night time, because on this day the sun is directly above the equator. After Spring Equinox, the days will be longer and longer in the Northern Hemisphere but shorter and shorter in the Southern Hemisphere.

Spring Equinox
Source: by Arek Socha on Pixabay

As we already know that every Chinese solar term has three pentads, here come the names of the pentads in Spring Equinox. The first pentad is 玄乌至 (Xuán wū zhì in pinyin), which means “the dark birds arrive”. “Dark birds” in this case refers to swallows, which are now making their northward migration from the south. The second pentad is 雷始发声 (Léi shǐ fā shēng in pinyin), which translates to “thunder makes sounds”, referring to the onset of spring thunderstorms. The last pentad, 始电 (Shǐ diàn in pinyin), means “lightning begins”. This refers to the lightening that goes together with rain and thunder.

Source: by Couleur on pixabay

As mentioned in our previous articles, a large number of the population in ancient China make their living by farming. And Chūnfēn is the time when farmers reward cattle by giving them sticky rice balls to express their gratefulness (but this practice is mostly kept in the southern area). Meanwhile, farmers also thank birds as they brought a signal to start the work.

Source: by Jill Wellington on pixabay

Not like nowadays, back to the ancient time, Spring Equinox is also called 中和节 (Zhōng hé jié in pinyin, Zhonghe Festival in English), but the date was set at 1st of Feburary in Chinese lunar calendar. As the Chinese nation has the tradition to worship the sun god, so this day was a big festival when the emperor led his ministers and officials to greet and worship the sun.

Source: by Dan Fador on pixabay

Of course, a special kind of food can not be missed. In this case, it is the “sun cake”. The “sun cake” is a round shaped cake made of rice flour & sugar with a three legged chicken standing on top. This chicken represents the “golden chicken” in the sun (accoding to ancient Chinese myth). The cake is considered both a sacrafice to the sun and food for commen people to eat during this day. Some people believe, if you eat this cake on the Spring Equinox, you will get good luck and fortune from the Sun God. Now, you would most likely find this cake with a sign of the sun rather than the chicken.

Sun cake in China
Source: internet

One more thing about food you need to remember: during Chūnfēn, the solar calendar advises people to eat seasonable vegetables. This custom is spreaded in most Chinese areas but the vegetables themselves can be varied depending on which part of China you live in. Also, fresh vegetables help your body to “refresh” after a long winter’s fat dishes.

Seasonable vegetables during the Spring Equinox in China
Source: by Jill Wellington on pixabay

During the Spring Equinox, there is a popular game – the egg-standing game. It is believed to be the best time for this game, as the sun is staying on the equal position according to the complete Earth (“0” degree), which makes the perfect balance.

Source: internet

In Chinese culture, spring has always been a sign of hope and new beginning.  

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