What Are The 24 Solar Terms In Chinese Calendar?

The 24 solar terms is a general name of the systemic set-up that includes 12 minor solar terms and 12 major solar terms. The ancient Chinese divided the circle of the yearly motion of the sun into twenty four equal segments. They then named each segment ‘a solar term’ or ‘jie qi’. These 24 solar terms were developed by ancient Chinese farmers by observing the sun’s annual motion and they used them to mark various natural variations, important seasons, and the weather. Read on to find out more about the 24 solar terms of the Chinese Lunar Calendar.

What are the 24 solar terms?

The Solar Terms is a calendar of 24 periods and climate changes that guide and control agricultural arrangements in ancient and modern China. Each solar term is determined by the position of the sun in the sky and each solar term lasts for approximately 15 days. All in all, the 24 solar terms reflect the climate in central China.

Generally, the division of the 24 solar terms fully considered the variation of natural phenomena including climate changes, seasons, and phenology. The main solar terms such as Start/Beginning of Winter, Start/Beginning of Autumn, Start/Beginning of Summer, and Start/Beginning of Spring are used to directly reflect the various changes of seasons. These 4 solar terms divide the year into 4 seasons that last for three months each.

Solar terms such as Winter Solstice, Summer Solstice, Vernal Equinox, and Autumnal Equinox, on the other hand, have been divided from an astronomical perspective. They simply reflect the exact turning point of the variation of the sun’s altitude. Along with that, solar terms such as Grain in Ear and Small Full (Grain) notify the Chinese on the maturity levels and harvest time of crops, while solar terms such as Awakening of Insects reflect observed insect activity in farms so that Chinese farmers can take action on their plants.

Other solar terms such as Major Cold, Minor Cold, Limit of Heat, and Major Heat have been divided based on the changes of temperature in different time periods, while solar terms such as Frost Descent, Minor Snow, Major Snow, Clear and Bright, Rain Water, Grain Water, White Dew, and Cold Dew reflect the concept of phenomenon of precipitation. These indicate important factors such as temperature changes, time and intensity of dew, frost, rainfall, and snowfall.

Solar Terms and their definitions

Starting from the ‘Vernal Equinox’, the 12 major solar terms are: Vernal Equinox, Corn Rain, Corn Forms, Summer Solstice, Great Heat, End of Heat, The Autumnal Equinox, Frost, Light Snow, Winter Solstice, Severe Cold, and Spring Showers. Each one of these twelve major solar terms falls on one of the twelve Luna months that are clearly designated by the 12 earthly branches in China.

When it comes to the minor solar terms after the Vernal Equinox, they are: Bright and Clear, followed by Summer Commences, then Corn on Ear, Moderate Hear, Autumn Begins, White Dew, Cold Dew, Winter Starts, Heavy Snow, Moderate Cold, Spring Starts, and Insects Awaken.

Based on the Earth’s structure and solar system analysis, the Sun moves throughout the year across the celestial sphere along a unique path known as the ecliptic. This path is measured in 360 degrees longitudes, and the twenty four solar terms divide this path into 24 equal segments with approximately 15 degrees of the sun’s longitude between each term.

At the Autumnal Equinox and the Vernal Equinox, the periods of day and night are always equal in length. During the Summer Solstice, the daylight period is much longer and during the Winter Solstice, the days are much shorter. These 4 were the first solar terms to be established and they helped people understand time and how it works. Thereafter, all the other solar terms were established according to the weather and agricultural activities that were carried out during a particular season.

To add to that, each major Lunar month found in the Chinese agricultural calendar contains a major solar term. Any lunar month that does not have a major solar term is automatically identified as the leap month of the previous month.

What was the 24 solar terms used to guide in the earliest days?

Considered the fifth greatest invention in China after paper-making, the compass, gun powder, and printing; the 24 solar terms were created by ancient Chinese farmers to guide specific farming activities and general agricultural activities in different parts of China. These terms significantly reflect changes in climate, agricultural climate, natural occurrences, and agricultural production. Along with that, the terms reflect important aspects of human life such as housing, clothing, food, and transportation- from their acquisition, to their preservation and improvement. Up to date, nearly all farmers in all parts of China rely on the 24 solar terms to decide what exactly they need to do in their fields.

In addition to that, the solar terms are associated with social and cultural aspects of China. For example, solar terms such as ‘Clear and Bright/Pure Brightness’ is marked as the ‘Tomb Sweeping Day’ when the Chinese honor the dead. Additionally, the ‘Start of Winter’ involves the eating of dumplings, the ‘Start of Autumn’ is welcomed by earing porridge, and the people in South China celebrate the ‘Frost Festival’ on the ‘Start of Spring’. All these festivals are greatly observed and the Chinese rely on the 24 solar terms to guide activities during festivals.

who invented 24 solar term?

Fuxi, the legendary ancestor of Chinese civilization, was able to observe the changes of all things in the heavens and the earth, and invented the Eight Trigrams for divination. Using eight simple and profound symbols, he summarized all things between heaven and earth. He also created written language and taught people to hunt and catch birds, among other things.

Fuxi was able to observe the changes of all things in the heavens and the earth, and was the founder of Chinese medicine. He also raised animals, grew plants, and had a close relationship with nature. It can be said that the embryonic form of the invention of the solar terms originated from Fuxi.

Around 2000 years ago, during the era of the Yan Emperor, he made important contributions to the survival and reproduction of the nation, such as making plows and hoes, growing crops, making cloth from hemp, providing clothing for the people, making bows from wood to establish his power, and making pottery to improve living conditions. All of these are closely related to agriculture and nature.

Most importantly, the Yan Emperor established the agricultural calendar, divided day and night, and determined the sun and moon, all of which are closely related to the 24 solar terms. Based on Fuxi’s observations of all things in the heavens and the earth, the Yan Emperor established the agricultural calendar, distinguished day and night, and determined the sun and moon, which was beneficial for the ancestors’ production and development, making a huge contribution to the development of humanity.

According to records from pre-Qin civilization such as the Book of Changes and cultural relics found in the Yellow River, Wei River, and Yangtze River basins, the Yan Emperor was the founder of Chinese agriculture. The agricultural civilization he created changed the ancestral way of life, which was based on eating wild fruits, hunting and fishing.

When was the 24 solar terms made?

Historically, East Asian countries like China, Japan, and Korea have used a system called the 24 solar terms to denote the passing of the seasons. These terms are also known as the 24 divisions of the solar year or the 24 seasons. Over the past two thousand years, this system has been widely followed.

The Book of Changes (I Ching) was compiled in ancient China during the Zhou Dynasty, where the 24 solar terms were first recorded (1046-256 BC). It is not known with certainty when the solar terms were first established.

Scholars are divided on when the solar terms were first established, with some pointing to the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC) or the Warring States Period as the likely eras (476-221 BC).


Farmers originally relied on the solar terms to foretell the weather and plan planting and harvesting schedules. Given that agriculture was the backbone of the ancient Chinese economy, the solar terms were integral to daily life.


The traditional Chinese calendar, a lunisolar calendar based on the cycles of the moon and the sun, eventually incorporated solar terms. The new year begins on the winter solstice and is divided into 24 solar terms, each of which lasts about 15 days.


Traditional Chinese medicine also made use of the 24 solar terms, attributing significant significance to them in terms of the meridians and the functioning of the internal organs. Many East Asians still use the solar terms in their daily lives and adhere to the associated rituals and customs.

What is the first solar term of the 24 solar terms?

The first solar term of the 24 solar terms is known as “Lichun” (立春) in Chinese, which means “the beginning of spring.” Lichun usually occurs around February 4th or 5th in the Gregorian calendar and marks the official start of spring in East Asian countries such as China, Japan, and Korea.

During Lichun, the weather begins to warm up, and the snow starts to melt, indicating the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Farmers traditionally use this time to prepare for planting crops, and people celebrate the holiday of “Chinese New Year” or “Spring Festival” during this time.

In Chinese culture, Lichun is also associated with certain customs and traditions, such as eating “spring rolls” and “tangyuan” (sweet glutinous rice balls) and cleaning the house to welcome the new year. The solar term of Lichun is considered an important time of renewal and growth, both in nature and in human life.

24 solar terms used for

The 24 solar terms are used for marking the changing of seasons in traditional Chinese culture. Each term represents a specific astronomical event or natural phenomenon that occurs during the year, such as the solstices, equinoxes, and the beginning of each season. These solar terms have been used for thousands of years in agriculture, medicine, and daily life.

Why are the 24 solar terms important?

The 24 solar terms are important in traditional East Asian culture for several reasons:

  • Agricultural Significance: The solar terms are closely linked to agriculture, which has been the backbone of East Asian societies for thousands of years. The solar terms help farmers determine the best times for planting, harvesting, and other agricultural activities. This knowledge has been passed down through generations, and is still important in modern times.
  • Natural Rhythms: The 24 solar terms help people observe and understand the natural rhythms of the Earth, such as the changing of seasons, weather patterns, and the movement of the sun and moon. This knowledge helps people live in harmony with nature and adapt to changing conditions.
  • Cultural Significance: The solar terms are deeply rooted in East Asian culture and have been celebrated and observed for thousands of years. They are an important part of festivals and celebrations throughout the year, and are often the basis for traditional foods, clothing, and customs.
  • Health and Wellness: The solar terms are also associated with health and wellness. In traditional Chinese medicine, each solar term is associated with different parts of the body and different health concerns. By understanding the solar terms, people can take better care of their health and prevent illness.

Overall, the 24 solar terms are an important part of East Asian culture and represent a deep connection to the natural world. They provide a framework for understanding the changing seasons, and help people live in harmony with nature and with each other.

24 solar terms food

The 24 solar terms are a traditional Chinese calendar system used to guide agricultural activities and celebrate seasonal changes. Each solar term is associated with specific foods and customs. Here are some foods and customs associated with each of the 24 solar terms:

Lichun (Beginning of Spring): Spring rolls, radishes, and other seasonal vegetables are eaten to celebrate the beginning of the new year and the hope for a good harvest.

Yushui (Rain Water): Spring bamboo shoots, Xiangchun (Chinese toon) leaves, and red dates are commonly eaten during this time.

Jingzhe (Awakening of Insects): This day marks the awakening of hibernating insects, and people eat pears to celebrate.

Chunfen (Spring Equinox): Spring pancakes, spring vegetables, glutinous rice balls, radishes, and donkey rolls are commonly eaten.

Qingming (Tomb Sweeping Day): On this day, people pay respects to their ancestors and eat eggs, green dumplings, and scallions.

Guyu (Grain Rain): Spinach, black glutinous rice, and Guyu tea are commonly consumed during this time.

Lixia (Beginning of Summer): Cherries, green plums, Lixia eggs, and Lixia noodles are commonly eaten.

Xiaoman (Grain Full): This day marks the time to harvest wheat, and people eat bitter vegetables to celebrate.

Mangzhong (Grain in Ear): This is the hottest time of the year, and people eat duck and other cold foods to counteract the heat.

Xiaoshu (Summer Solstice): Dumplings, Zongzi (glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves), and Xiaoshu noodles are commonly eaten.

Xiaozhi (Minor Heat): Eel, dumplings, mung bean sprouts, lotus roots, and cucumbers are commonly eaten.

Dashu (Major Heat): Litchi, lamb, and cold dishes are commonly consumed.

Liqiu (Beginning of Autumn): This is an important time for farmers, as they prepare for the autumn harvest. People eat peaches, dumplings, and various fruits to celebrate.

Chushu (Limit of Heat): This day marks the end of the hot summer, and people eat duck, longan fruit, and glutinous rice balls to celebrate.

Bailu (White Dew): Pears, lilies, and lotus roots are commonly consumed during this time.

Qiufen (Autumn Equinox): Pumpkins, glutinous rice balls, and osmanthus wine are commonly eaten.

Hanlu (Cold Dew): Chrysanthemums, sesame seeds, sweet flower cakes, and crabs are commonly consumed.

Shuangjiang (Frost Descent): Persimmons are commonly eaten during this time, as they become fully ripe and nutritious.

Lidong (Beginning of Winter): Sugarcane, scallions, and dumplings are commonly eaten to celebrate the start of winter.

Xiaoxue (Minor Snow): Preserved meats and vegetables, such as bacon and pickles, are commonly eaten during this time.

Daxue (Major Snow): Sweet potato porridge, rice cakes, radish and lamb soup, and other warming foods are commonly consumed.

Dongzhi (Winter Solstice): Dumplings and tangyuan (sweet glutinous rice balls) are commonly eaten to celebrate the return of longer daylight hours.

Xiaohan (Minor Cold): Hotpot, lamb, and other warming foods are commonly eaten.

Da Han(Major Cold): This is the last solar term of the year. People usually drink Laba porridge, chicken soup, eat eight treasure rice, rice cakes, and other food.

24 solar terms vs 12 zodiac

Aside from each other, traditional Chinese culture makes use of two other systems, the 24 solar terms and the 12 zodiac signs, for various reasons.

The 24 solar terms are based on the movement of the sun in relation to the earth and the variations in weather and other natural phenomena that occur as a result. For agricultural, astronomical, and cultural reasons, each solar term is used to mark a distinct point in the seasonal cycle. For instance, the solar term “Lichun” is used to mark the beginning of the planting season in agriculture.

However, the zodiac signs are determined by the moon’s path across the ecliptic’s constellations over the course of a year. Characteristics, good fortune, and even romantic compatibility are all tied to the zodiac sign one was born under. The zodiac sign of the Rat, for instance, is known for its smarts, fortune, and luck.

Both systems have a long and storied history in China, but they are used for distinct purposes and have no inherent connection.

24 Solar Terms of the Lunar Calendar

The table below highlights the 24 Solar Terms of the Lunar Calendar China and outlines their meanings.

SeasonSolar Terms Identification in ChineseSpecific Time Period when it falls (Month +Date)Commentary
Spring Season Start of SpringLìchūn February 3rd or 4thThe Spring Season commences in the South of China
Rain WaterYǔshuǐ   February 18/19thRainfall starts to increase from this date onwards
Awakening of InsectsJingZhe March 5thThunder begins during this time and the hibernating insects slowly start to awaken
The Spring Equinox(Vernal Equinox)Chūnfēn   March 20th/21stThe sun is directly above the equator and the days and nights are of equal lengths
Pure Brightness/ Clear and BrightQīngmíng  April 4thBegins when the sun reaches the celestial longitude of 15 degrees. The Qingming festival is celebrated during this time, the skies are often clear and bright and the temperatures are noticeably warmer
Grain RainGǔyǔ April 19th/20thThe last solar term in Spring where early crops slowly start showing their shoots. Also, temperatures rise rapidly and heavy rain occurs during this time. Farmers are reminded to control insect pests during this time
Summer SeasonBeginning of SummerLìxiàMay 5thSummer begins in the South of China
Small Grain/Grain BudsXiǎomǎnMay 20thDuring this time of the year, seeds of the summer crops start to plump, but they aren’t always ripe
Grain in EarMángzhǒngJune 5thWheat and other summer crops become completely ripe and the summer planting season begins in Southern China
Summer SolsticeXiàzhìJune 21stCharacterized by very long days and extremely short nights
Slight HeatXiǎoshǔJuly 6th/7thIt begins to become uncomfortably hot/ The hottest period of the year commences
Major HeatDàshǔJuly 22ndTemperatures are extremely hot, controlled by monsoons hence frequent showers and thunderstorms in Northern China, season of natural disasters,
Autumn SeasonBeginning of AutumnLìqiūAugust 7thThe Autumn season officially begins but the after heat effect is still felt. Also, this is when autumn harvesting crops ripen
Limit of HeatChùshǔAugust 23rdDuring this time, there is a transition of temperatures from hot to cool. This officially marks the end of the hot summer season
White DewBáilùSeptember 7thTemperatures are decreasing at this time; dew appears in the early morning on the grounds and the leaves.
The Autumnal EquinoxQiūfēnSeptember 22ndDay and night are equally long. During this time, farmers sow winter wheat and rice
Cold DewHánlùOctober 8thThe dew on the ground and on the leaves is colder and easily becomes frozen dew. There is less rain and the temperatures are much lower. During this time, farmers try to protect their crops  from freeze injury
Descent of FrostShuāngjiàngOctober 23rdThe weather becomes much colder and frost begins to fall (mostly in North China)
Winter SeasonBeginning of WinterLìdōngNovember 7thAnimals go into hibernation, crops harvested in autumn need to be stored up. (In this case, winter starts in Northern China, but comes later in Southern China)
Minor/Slight SnowXiǎoxuěNovember 22ndSudden temperature drops and it becomes much colder, a little snow is seen during this time
Great/Major SnowDàxuěDecember 7thIt begins to snow heavily and it marks the beginning of mid-winter. These are the coldest days for most parts of China. Chinese believe heavy snow during this time equals great harvest
The Winter SolsticeDōngzhìDecember 21stExtremely long nights and short days. During this time, the Chinese worship gods and the ancestors as they believe that the energy of heaven and earth is starting to grow stronger. People of North China eat spicy dumplings and people of south China eat sweet dumplings during this time
Slight/Minor ColdXiǎohánJanuary 6thThe coldest days of the year begin
Great/Major ColdDàhánJanuary 20thSevere cold

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