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[24 solar term] Beginning of winter

Updated:2017-11-06 17:38:59   english.yunnan.cn

The traditional Chinese lunar calendar divides the year into 24 solar terms. Start of Winter, (Chinese: 立冬), the 19th solar term of the year, begins this year on Nov 7 and ends on Nov 21.

Start of Winter is the first solar term of winter, which means winter is coming and crops harvested in autumn should be stored up.

Here are common things you should know about Start of Winter:

Welcoming the winter in ancient times

The four beginnings of the seasons were important festivals in ancient times. Before the Start of Winter, the ancient emperor would take a shower and have no more meat. On that day, the emperor would lead his officials to the suburbs and perform the ceremony of "welcoming the winter."

Eating dumplings

A legend has it that at the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD25-220), "Medical Saint" Zhang Zhongjing saved many people in Henan province from a typhoid epidemic and their ears' from being frostbitten around Start of Winter.

He cooked mutton, hot peppers and herbs to dispel the cold and increase body heat. He wrapped these ingredients into a dough skin and made them into an ear shape. Since then, people have learned to make the food which became known as "dumpling". Today there is still a saying that goes "Eat dumplings on Start of Winter Day, or your ears will be frostbitten".

Eating Chinese pumpkins

In Tianjin, on the first day of Start of Winter, people eat dumplings stuffed with Chinese pumpkins (wogua). It is a common vegetable in North China. Generally, the pumpkins are bought in the summer and stored until the Start of Winter when they are taken out.

Offering sacrifices to ancestors

The Start of Winter, when the autumn crops have been placed in storage, was the time of the festival for the people of the Manchu Eight Banners and Han Eight Banners in Benxi of Liaoning province. Incense was burned and sacrifices offered to ancestors. The Eight Banners (baqi) were administrative/military divisions during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Source: CNTV.com; Editor: Eric Wang

Keywords:   Beginning winter