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24 solar terms


The 24 solar terms, based on the sun's position in the zodiac, were created by farmers in ancient China to guide the agricultural affairs and farming activities. The 24 solar terms reflect the changes in climate, natural phenomena, agricultural production, and other aspects of human life, including clothing, food, housing, and transportation. The 24 solar terms play important roles and have greatly influenced people's basic needs in life, and they still have an important function nowadays.


The terms consist of 12 pairs of major (sectional) and minor (middle) solar terms interlaced with each other. Namely, the 24 solar terms embody a complete circle of the sun and divide the circle into 24 segments, with each segment being about half a month long.


Origin 起源

As early as the Spring and Autumn Period (770–476 BC), Chinese ancestors had already established two major solar terms, ri nan zhi (日南至 'Sun South Most') and ri bei zhi (日北至 'Sun North Most').


As of the end of the Warring States Period (475–221 BC), eight key solar terms (Start of Spring, Vernal Equinox, Start of Summer, Summer Solstice, Start of Autumn, Autumnal Equinox, Start of Winter and Winter Solstice) marking the four seasons, were established according to the different positions of the sun and changes in natural phenomena.


The rest of the solar terms were initiated in the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC–24 AD). Hence most terms refer to the climate of Xi'an, capital of the Han Dynasty.


List of the 24 Solar Terms

立春 lì chūn, Start of Spring

雨水 yǔ shuǐ, Rain Water

惊蛰 jīng zhé, Awakening of Insects

春分 chūn fēn, Vernal Equinox

清明 qīng míng, Clear and Bright

谷雨 gǔ yǔ, Grain Rain

立夏 lì xià, Start of Summer

小满 xiǎo mǎn, Small Full (Grain)

芒种 máng zhǒng, Grain in Ear

夏至 xià zhì, Summer Solstice

小暑 xiǎo shǔ, Minor Heat

大暑 dà shǔ, Major Heat

立秋 lì qiū, Start of Autumn

处暑 chù shǔ, Limit of Heat

白露 bái lù, White Dew

秋分 qiū fēn, Autumnal Equinox 

寒露 hán lù, Cold Dew

霜降 shuāng jiàng, Frost Descent

立冬 lì dōng, Start of Winter

小雪 xiǎo xuě, Minor Snow

大雪 dà xuě, Major Snow

冬至 dōng zhì, Winter Solstice

小寒 xiǎo hán, Minor Cold

大寒 dà hán, Major Cold 


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