24 Solar Terms – 二十四节气

Crops Sunset
Photo by: Pal Csonka

There are 2 Traditional Chinese Calendars, The Solar Calendar, and the Lunar Calendar. The Chinese Solar Calendar is divided into 24 Solar Terms, while the Lunar Calendar is divided into 12 Lunar Months. (In a leap year, there will be 13 months).

The 24 Solar Terms was created in Ancient China, to indicate changes in weather, climates and natural phenomena. It was used widely by farmers in the Agriculture production and it also relates to every aspect of their daily life.

Ancient Sundial

Photo by: Rafael Rigues

In Ancient China, the people began to observe the movement of the Sun. In the Spring and Autumn period, Sundials were used to measure the shadow under the Sun, to determine the 4 Solar Terms of Winter Solstice, Summer Solstice, Vernal Equinox and the Autumnal Equinox.

During the Summer Solstice, the shadow of the sundial is the shortest at noon, and the shadow is the longest when it is the Winter Solstice. When it is of medium length, it is either the Vernal Equinox or the Autumnal Equinox.

The time taken for the Sun to complete a full circle of angle changes was defined as a tropical year based on the relations between the Solar, Lunar motions and the Weather, the growth of plants, animals and other natural phenomena. These angles were divided into 24 equal segments, with 15 degrees apart. These 24 segments are the 24 Solar Terms.

The following shows all the 24 Solar Terms and their Longitude bearings :

  1. Beginning of Spring” (立春 Li Chun) ~ 315° : around 3rd, 4th or 5th February of the Solar calendar, indicating the beginning of spring
  2. Rain Water” (雨水 Yu Shui) ~ 330° : around 18th, 19th, or 20th February of the Solar calendar, indicating the gradual increase of rainfalls
  3. Awakening of Insects” (惊蜇 Jing Zhe) ~ 345° : around 5th, 6th or 7th March of the Solar Calendar, indicating a relatively fast temperature rise and possible spring thunders
  4. Vernal/Spring Equinox” (春分 Chun Fen) ~ 0° : around 20th, 21st or 22nd March of the Solar Calendar, indicating the equal length of day and night
  5. Clear and Bright” (清明 Qing Ming) ~ 15° : around 4th, 5th or 6th April of the Solar Calendar, indicating clear skies, fresh air, warm weather and lush plants
  6. Grain Rain” (谷雨 Gu Yu) ~ 30° : around 19th, 20th or 21st April of the Solar Calendar, indicating the increase of rainfalls, which is good for grain crops
  7. Beginning of Summer” (立夏 Li Xia) ~ 45° : around 5th, 6th or 7th May of the Solar Calendar, indicating the beginning of Summer
  8. Grain Full” (小满 Xiao Man) ~ 60° : around 20th,  21st or 22nd May of the Solar Calendar, indicating that the seeds of Summer crops are getting plump but not ripe yet
  9. Grain in Ear” (芒种 Mang Zhong) ~ 75° : around 5th, 6th or 7th June of the Solar Calendar, indicating the ripening of wheat crops and the beginning of a busy farming season
  10. Summer Solstice” (夏至 Xia Zhi) ~ 90° : around 21st or 22nd June of the Solar Calendar, indicating the extreme of Summer in astronomical terms
  11. Minor Heat” (小暑 Xiao Shu) ~ 105° : around 6th, 7th or 8th July of the Solar Calendar, indicating that the hottest days are yet to come
  12. Major Heat” (大暑 Da Shu) ~ 120° : around 22nd, 23rd or 24th July of the Solar Calendar, indicating the hottest time of the year
  13. Start of Autumn” (立秋 Li Qiu) ~ 135° : around 7th, 8th or 9th August of the Solar Calendar, indicating the beginning of Autumn
  14. Limit of Heat” (处暑 Chu Shu) ~ 150° : around 22nd, 23rd or 24th August of the Solar Calendar, indicating that Summer is coming to an end
  15. White Dew” 白露 (Bai Lu) ~ 165° : around 7th, 8th or 9th September of the Solar Calendar, indicating that the temperature begins to fall, the weather is getting cold and there are dewdrops on grass and trees in the morning
  16. Autumnal Equinox” 秋分 (Qiu Fen) ~ 180° : around 22nd, 23rd or 24th September of the Solar Calendar, indicating the equal length of day and night
  17. Cold Dew” 寒露 (Han Lu) ~ 195° : around 8th or 9th October of the Solar Calendar, indicating lower temperature, dew in the air and cold feeling
  18. Frost Descent” 霜降 (Shuang Jiang) ~ 210° : around 23rd or 24th October of the Solar Calendar, indicating the appearance of frost
  19. Start of Winter” 立冬 (Li Dong) ~ 225° : around 7th or 8th November of the Solar Calendar, indicating the Beginning of Winter
  20. Minor Snow” 小雪 (Xiao Xue) ~ 240° : around 22nd or 23rd November of the Solar Calendar, indicating the beginning of light snowfalls
  21. Major Snow” 大雪 (Da Xue) ~ 255° : around 6th, 7th or 8th December of the Solar Calendar, indicating the beginning of heavy snowfalls
  22. Winter Solstice” 冬至 (Dong Zhi) ~ 270° : around 21st, 22nd or 23rd December of the Solar Calendar, indicating the extreme of Winter in astronomical terms
  23. Minor Cold” 小寒 (Xiao Han) ~ 285° : around 5th, 6th or 7th January of the Solar Calendar, indicating that the weather is getting colder, but the coldest days are yet to come
  24. Major Cold” 大寒 (Da Han ) ~ 300° : around 20th or 21st January of the Solar Calendar, indicating the coldest time of the year



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24 Solar Terms – 二十四节气 — 1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Qing Ming Festival 2012 - 清明节 - SINGAPOREAN LifeStyle

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