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24 Chinese Solar terms – Cold Dew

Big celebrations happened in China recently – National Day and Golden Week and Mid-Autumn Festival. But not only National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival happened, a new solar term has arrived as well. This is the beginning of the end of nice weather – especially in the North of China. So, from now on it will get colder and colder with every new solar term, days will become shorter and nights – longer. But that is not a reason to be sad, right? There are still so many things to do – so, let’s start and have a look at what we can do during this period, which vitamins-rich-veggies/fruits we should purchase in local stores to be fit while Cold Dew is here.

Cold Dew is an English translation of 寒露, or Hán Lù in Pinyin. This term is the 17th of the 24 Chinese Solar terms and – this year – starts on October 8th. During Hanlu, the daytime temperature decreases and nearly no rain will fall anywhere in China. So, us here in Northern China had better prepare our autumn and winter coats and scarves. But even those of you in the South of the country might bring out long sleeves and heavier weight pants.

Traditionally, there are 3 pentads in each solar term, let’s have a look at those belonging to Hanlu:

鸿雁来宾 (hóng yàn lái bīn), ‘The guest geese arrive’ – Geese which completed their migration in summer were considered ‘hosts’, and the later-flying ones as ‘guests’. This pentad can also be interpreted as ‘The geese arrive at the water’s edge’. 

雀入大水为蛤 (què rù shuĭ wéi há), ‘The sparrows enter the ocean and become clams’. In ancient times, people believed that sparrows turn into clams as they almost have the same stripes and color.

菊有黄花 (jú yŏu huáng huā), ‘Chrysanthemums bloom yellow’ – the chrysanthemum is known as one of the few flowers to bloom in autumn. 

Did you know that Cold Dew is a great time for fishing? Because the temperature drops so fast, sunlight cannot reach deep waters which make the fish swim to shallower areas where the water temperature is still relatively high. And there, they are much easier to catch!

Hiking in the fall is beautiful

For those of you who are not really fond of fishing, here is another great activity for this time of year – hiking. It is no secret that autumn is perfect for hiking for several reasons. First of all, it is not as hot, so it is easier walk up and down slopes and (in China) stairs, and you will not be sweating as soon as you take even one step; secondly, if you usually do not have enough time for hiking, we bet you could take the opportunity of Golden Week for it (but during this time it is better not to visit the most famous spots – as you will have to share those with big crowds; instead, use Golden Week to discover new and unknown places with less tourists if you can); and finally, autumn gives hikers the most beautiful views. Colorful leaves wherever you look – yellow, red, brown, a bit of leftover green – what’s not to like?

What about food, you ask? Autumn is the harvest season of pomegranates – you will find them on Chinese tables during this time. They have been cherished for their exquisite beauty, flavor, color, and there are lots of vitamins and health benefits – what else do you need to keep healthy during the cold times?!

Hawthorn harvesting

There is a saying that goes “It is time to harvest hawthorn during Cold Dew.” As we know, hawthorn has been used a lot in herbal medicine for ages, and it ripens in this season.

Make kippers during Cold Dew Solar term

Another food-related custom comes from Western China and it is the tradition of making kippers and pickles during Cold Dew. It is said that the kippers during Cold Dew with ingredients such as rice wine, salt, glutinous rice, pepper powder, paprika powder and ginger are especially delicious. Why not try this custom also?

And what about drinks? Is there a must-drink during Hanlu? Of course there is.

Drink chrysanthemum wine during Cold Dew Solar term

Chrysanthemum is seen as symbolic for Cold Dew. In many parts of China, this solar term is when people drink chrysanthemum wine. It is a tradition especially observed during the Double Ninth Festival (on the 9th day of the 9th month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar). Double Ninth Festival often falls within the Cold Dew solar term.

The ancients used to believe that this kind of chrysanthemum wine (enriched with some other Chinese medicine ingredients like China root and pine resin) would grant the drinkers long-lasting youth.

Or at least a buzz…

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