what is solar terms?Ancient Chinese divided the circle of the annual motion of the sun into 24 equal segments; each segment was called a “jie qi” or solar term. Hence the 24 segments are collectively called the 24 Solar Terms. This system of time embodies the traditional knowledge and the social practices through which Chinese organize their perception of the regularity of seasons, of astronomical laws and of other local natural phenomena occurring in the course of the year. It is an indispensable component of the traditional Chinese calendars and its living applications, serving as a time-frame for agricultural activities and daily life. In international circle of meteorology, this cognitive system has been honored as the Fifth Great Invention of China.

The solar terms are: Beginning of Spring, Rain Water, Insects Awakening, Spring Equinox, Fresh Green, Grain Rain, Beginning of Summer, Lesser Fullness, Grain in Ear, Summer Solstice, Lesser Heat, Greater Heat, Beginning of Autumn, End of Heat, White Dew, Autumnal Equinox, Cold Dew, First Frost, Beginning of Winter, Light Snow, Heavy Snow, Winter Solstice, Lesser Cold, and Greater Cold.

How does the 24 Solar Terms come into existence and develop?

24 Solar Terms Origin:The 24 Solar Terms come to being and develop in close relationship with Chinese agricultural production, and today the year comprises of 24 Solar Terms. During the Shang Dynasty they only used four solar terms; the Zhou Dynasty (11th century BC – 221BC), used eight; but it was in the Western Han Dynasty (206BC – 24) that the 24 terms were finally decided upon.

solar terms why is it important

The terms has been closely combined with the living rhythm, lifestyle and especially traditional festivals of Chinese people. It also absorbed some contents of history, religions and folklore. These cultural features are still playing an energetic role in our society despite increasing urbanization.

At the initial stage of agricultural development, people began to explore the seasonal rule in the agricultural production to meet the needs in seeding, harvesting and other activities. Gradually, they formed the concept of “Seed in Spring, grow in Summer, Harvest in Autumn and Store in Winter”. During the Spring and Autumn Period, the agricultural production was high, subject to the seasonal changes with the invention of iron tools, thus forming the concept of Solar Term. At that time, the method of tugui was used to measure the shadow of the sun for determining the solar terms. Initially, there were only the Summer Solstice and the Winter Solstice. Later added were the Spring Equinox, the Autumnal Equinox, the Beginning of Spring, the Beginning of Summer, the Beginning of Autumn and the Beginning of Winter.


The table below show the Twenty-four Solar Terms :
solar terms Chinese name Gregorian date (approx.) Remarks
start of spring  lìchūn February 4 spring starts here according to the Chinese definition of a season, see also Cross-quarter day
rain water  yǔshuǐ February 19 starting at this point, the temperature makes rain more likely than snow
awakening of insects  jīngzhé March 5 when hibernating insects awaken
vernal equinox chūnfēn March 20 lit. the central divide of spring (referring to the Chinese seasonal definition)
clear and bright qīngmíng April 5 a Chinese festival where, traditionally, ancestral graves are tended
grain rains gǔyǔ or gǔyù April 20 rain helps grain grow
start of summer lìxià May 6 refers to the Chinese seasonal definition
grain full xiǎomǎn May 21 grains are plump
grain in ear mángzhòng or mángzhǒng June 6 lit. awns (beard of grain) grow
summer solstice xiàzhì June 21 lit. summer extreme (of sun’s height)
minor heat xiǎoshǔ July 7 when heat starts to get unbearable
major heat dàshǔ July 23 the hottest time of the year
start of autumn lìqiū August 7 uses the Chinese seasonal definition
limit of heat chùshǔ August 23 lit. dwell in heat
white dew báilù September 8 condensed moisture makes dew white; a sign of autumn
autumnal equinox qiūfēn September 23 lit. central divide of autumn (refers to the Chinese seasonal definition)
cold dew hánlù October 8 dew starts turning into frost
descent of frost shuāngjiàng October 23 appearance of frost and descent of temperature
start of winter lìdōng November 7 refers to the Chinese seasonal definition
minor snow xiǎoxuě November 22 snow starts falling
major snow dàxuě December 7 season of snowstorms in full swing
winter solstice dōngzhì December 22 lit. winter extreme (of sun’s height)
minor cold xiǎohán January 6 cold starts to become unbearable
major cold dàhán January 20 coldest time of year

By yelang

My name is Yelang, I love my country. I love Chinese history, Chinese culture and Chinese food, I want to share my story to friends all over the world. Truly, without any political bias, let you know my motherland. For this reason, I have traveled all over China's 20 + provinces and visited more than 100 + cities. At the same time, I read a lot of books and articles, and let you know through the website of sonofchina. At the same time, I hope to get to know friends all over the world and know different countries in the world through sonofchina.So, if you have any questions, please let me know.

3 thoughts on “What does meaning of 24 solar terms in chinese lunar calendar”
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