The Chinese 24 Solar terms, also known as the 24 seasonal division points, in the Chinese lunisolar calendar originated in ancient China and then spread to East Asia and South-East Asia. They are calculated from the position of the Sun on the ecliptic, that divides the year into 24 equal periods. Chinese ancestors observed the energy changes in Nature and established this way of seasonal calculation to guide activities in human life, including agricultural affairs, clothing, diet, housing, transportation, health preservation, moods management, etc.. They played a very important role in people’s basic essential needs in life in China in the past and still function well today.
Due to the Earth-Sun distance, the speed of the Sun along the ecliptic varies. The number of days it takes the Sun to travel between every two Solar terms slightly varies as well. For example: the date for the beginning of Spring, the first Solar term of each year, could be on Feb 4 or 5.
Listed below are the names of the 24 Solar terms and very brief explanations of them.
Please note: The dates and months listed below are based on the Northern Hemisphere. It’s opposite in the Southern Hemisphere.
The names of the 24 Solar terms show that the division of the seasonal points has totally considered the variation of natural phenomena, climates, phenology, etc.
The 1st Solar term: Li Chun, The beginning of Spring, February 3, 4 or 5.
The Yang energy in Nature starts to rise. A lot of Plants start to sprout.
The 2nd Solar term: Yu Shui, The rain water, February 18, 19 or 20.
Rainfall starts to increase.
The 3rd Solar term: Jing Zhe, The awakening of insects, March 5 or 6.
Thunder begins and a lot of insects and hibernating animals start to be active.
The 4th Solar term: Chun Fen, The Spring Equinox, March 20, 21 or 22.
The length of day and night are almost equal.
The 5th Solar term: Qing Ming, The pure brightness, April 4, 5 or 6.
Grass and trees are thriving.
The 6th Solar term: Gu Yu, The grain rains, April 19, 20 or 21.
Crops grow due to plentiful rainfall.
The 7th Solar term: Li Xia, The beginning of Summer, May 5, 6 or 7.
The Yang energy in Nature gets a lot stronger than it is in Spring.
The 8th Solar term: Xiao Man, The lesser fullness of grains, May 20, 21 or 22.
The seed plumpness of the Summer crops starts.
The 9th Solar term: Mang Zhong, The grain in ear, June 5, 6 or 7.
Mount crops such as wheat are mature and to be harvested.
The 10th Solar term: Xia Zhi, The Summer Solstice, June 21 or 22.
The Yang energy in Nature reaches the peak. The longest daytime and the shortest nighttime of the year.
The 11th Solar term: Xiao shu, The lesser heat, July 6, 7 or 8.
The heat of Summer rises more.
The 12th Solar term: Da Shu, The greater heat, July 22, 23 or 24.
The hottest period of a year.
The 13th Solar term: Li Qiu, The beginning of Autumn, August 7, 8 or 9.
The leaves of trees starts to fall. The Yang energy in Nature descents.
The 14th Solar term: Chu Shu, The end of heat, August 22, 23 or 24.
The hot Summer ends completely.
The 15th Solar term: Bai Lu, The white dew, September 7, 8 or 9.
The temperature drops sharply enough to reach dew point.
The 16th Solar term: Qiu Fen, The Autumn Equinox, September 22, 23 or 24.
The equal length of day and night.
The 17th Solar term: Han Lu, The cold dew, October 8 or 9.
The weather is cold enough to reach the points between dew and frost.
The 18th Solar term: Shuang Jiang, The frost descent, October 23 or 24.
The frost begins to form.
The 19th Solar term: Li Dong, The start of Winter, November 7 or 8.
Winter starts. The Yin energy gets a lot stronger. The coldness is more noticeable than it is in Autumn.
The 20th Solar term: Xiao Xue, The lesser snow, November 22 or 23.
Snow begins to fall.
The 21st Solar term: Da Xue, The heavier snow, December 6, 7 or 8.
Snow falls heavier and heavier from now on.
The 22nd Solar term: Dong Zhi, The Winter Solstice, December 21, 22 or 23.
The Yin energy reaches its peak in a year. The shortest daytime and the longest nighttime of a year.
The 23rd Solar term: Xiao Han, The lesser cold, January 5, 6 or 7.
The weather gets cold and freezing.
The 24th Solar term: Da Han, The greater cold, January 20 or 21.
The coldest time of a year.
The dates for the natural phenomena changes in different areas could be slightly different from the ones given above due to different longitude and latitude.