The 24 Solar Terms – knowledge in China of time and practices developed through observation of the sun’s annual motion, was first included in the calendar in 104 B.C.E during Western Han dynasty, which was called Taichu Calendar then. The rigorous calendar of solar terms has been in use for over 2,000 years and is still directing the agricultural production and daily routines of Chinese people.
24 Solar Terms
February 3, 2021, or the 22nd of the 12th lunar month, is the first of the 24 solar term in the year – Lichun (Beginning of Spring). As the name suggests, Lichun marks the start of a new cycle of seasons. Spring is a season of revitalization, just as summer is a season of growing, autumn and winter is the time to harvest and store. Despite rising temperature and increasing amount of sunlight and precipitation after Lichun, many regions in China may still be hit by cold waves.
Video provided by China Xinhua News Network Corporation
Lichun is also an important time to initiate farming. In Shiqian county, Guizhou province, intangible cultural heritage ”Shuo Chun (Spring Announcement)” ceremony is held on Lichun every year. The herald of spring, known as ”Chun Guan (Spring Announcer)”, delivers annual agricultural plans and the blessings of spring to each local family.
Ritual for Lichun at Wutong Ancestral Hall in Jiuhua Township
People in Jiuhua township of Quzhou, Zhejiang province hold spring offering at Wutong Ancestral Hall for Lichun solar term every year. The rituals include worshipping Gou Mang (the God of Spring), welcoming spring, wishing for a good harvest, serving offerings, dressing up as the God of Spring, burning incense, making spring ox out of paper, bamboo or clay, gently whipping the ox, giving performance to thank the gods and outing, etc.
Yangzhou Paper-cutting: Butterflies
The custom of welcoming spring with paper-cutting in Yangzhou dates back to the Tang dynasty. People make paper-cutting flowers, butterflies, and jewelry and wear them on the head or hang under flowers to appreciate.
Biting the Spring
In many parts of China, people observe the custom of ”biting the spring” on the first day of the solar term. They eat spring pancakes, spring rolls, or a few mouthfuls of radish. ”Prepare salted meat and stir-fried vegetables, such as spinach, Chinese chives, bean sprouts, eggs, etc., and wrap them with pancakes” – this is how to make spring pancake; place the fillings on the center of the wrapper, fold the four sides inward and roll the wrapper to seal it, then fry it until it turns crispy and golden brown – and you will have a spring roll. Spring roll fillings can be meat or vegetable, salty or sweet, usually including bean sprouts, Chinese chives and other seasonal vegetables. As food preference varies in different regions, fresh meat, seafood and red beans have also become some of the most common fillings of spring roll.
春饼 Spring Pancake | 春卷 Spring Roll
Xiaonian (Minor New Year) arrives during Lichun this year, which is a week before Chinese New Year’s Eve when people offer sacrifices to the Kitchen God, sweep the dust, have Zaotang (candy for the Kitchen God), paste paper-cuts on windows and paste Spring Festival couplets etc. to prepare for the celebration of Spring Festival. People in different regions celebrate Minor New Year in different time. Generally speaking, it falls on the 23rd of the twelfth lunar month in North China and on 24th in South China. This is related to the tradition that ”officials celebrate Minor New Year on the 23rd, common people celebrate on the 24th and fishermen on the 25th”. Although the time and customs of celebrating Mino New Year vary in different places, people share the longing for an auspicious and happy new year. 2021 ”Happy Chinese New Year” online celebration presented by China Cultural Center in Stockholm will launch tomorrow, while initiating a yearly cooperation with Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism. Online performances, exhibitions, lectures, workshops and a variety of cultural and art events will be on display until February 26 (the Lantern Festival) to tell Chinese stories and share sincere blessings.
2021 ”Happy Chinese New Year” Global Launching Ceremony and Opening Concert will be livestreamed at 9:30 on February 4 (local time in Sweden). Follow the instructions below and follow China Cultural Center in Stockholm, CGTN and/or China Culture on Facebook to watch live online.
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