Today, we are welcoming the 18th out of the 24 Chinese solar terms. Frost’s Descent is the English equivalent of 霜降 or Shuāngjiàng in pinyin. According to the Chinese agricultural calendar, it is the last term of autumn, which means the next two weeks will be the last of the autumn harvest. Farmers are all busy in the fields gathering crops, whether they are ripe or not – otherwise, the harvest may perish from the cold. The start of this term is on October 23rd this year.
Let’s have a look at the 3 pendants of this solar term:
豺乃祭兽 (chái nǎi jì shòu) – the jackals will keep their prey for days before eating.
草木黄落 (cǎo mù huáng luò) – the leaves on the plants will turn yellow and fall onto the ground.
蜇虫咸俯 (zhéchóng xián fŭ) – all the bugs will stop eating, moving, lower their head and prepare for hibernation.
As you can guess from the name – during this period of time you may find a light frost on the trees – the first sign that winter is very close. At least in China’s North. In the South, it doesn’t get quite as cold yet.
In this period, it is very important to keep your body and mind “fit” as with the coldness it is very easy to fall ill or become depressed. For the first “disease” it is recommended to wear clothes according to the weather conditions, so if you still hide your autumn coat in the closet – it is time to put it on!
Save yourselves from depression by enjoying the most beautiful period of this time – as trees “paint” the view of the city into different colors. Just take some walks through the parks or go hiking in the surrounding countryside if you are able.
When talking about keeping your body and mind “fit” – one thing is providing yourself with all the vitamins you will need during the cold and dry period.
Persimmons are a “must-eat” during the Frost’s Descent as they help resist the cold and protect your bones. The Chinese believe that their lips will crack if they do not eat persimmons during this period. Now, we wouldn’t want that to happen, right? Plus, they’re delicious fruits that are dirt cheap here (at least compared to my own home country).
Ever heard of the age-old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”? People think the same here in China. So, everywhere in the world people know about the nutritious benefits of apples – that is the reason why it is important to eat them during this solar term, when your body needs a lot of vitamins.
The pear is another recommended fruit during Frost’s Descent, which can promote the secretion of body liquids, clear away heat and reduce sputum.
In China’s Southern Fujian Province and in Taiwan, there is the saying that “even nourishing all year is not as good as nourishing the human body on the first day of Frost’s Descent.” That is what brought on the custom in these areas to eat duck on the first day of Shuāngjiàng, as it is a way for people to gain some weight and “prepare” the body for wintertime.
Chestnuts have a warm nature and sweet flavor and are good for nourishing the spleen and stomach, invigorating the circulation of blood, relieving coughs and reducing sputum. All these benefits make chestnuts “must-eats” during this period.
Chinese dates can be found on all the markets during Frost’s Descent. This fruit also has health benefits equal to the ones mentioned above. However, doctors recommend not to eat too much of them – Chinese dates gone bad can cause headaches and dizziness or even put people’s lives in danger.
Those are the most popular “must-eats” in China during Shuāngjiàng solar term. But, as you know, China is a huge country with many people, and many of them have their own regional traditions and customs, so this list could become endless.
But what is common to all of them, is that you have to take more care about your health, as with the coming coldness your body becomes more vulnerable. So, take care of yourself, prepare for the cold and eat more vitamin-rich products, and you will have no problems during this time.