Editor's note: The 24 Solar terms are an ancient Chinese calendar used to guide farming. They are the crystallization of the accumulated experience and wisdom of the working people of the Chinese nation. Since ancient China was an agricultural society, people required a strict understanding of the sun’s movement, and farming was conducted entirely according to the sun as well. Therefore, the “24 solar terms”, which reflects the sun’s movement cycle, were added to the calendar as the standard for determining leap months. The 24 solar terms are: Start of Spring, Rain, Awakening of Insects, Spring Equinox, Qingming festival, Grain Rain, Start of Summer, Grain buds, Grain in Ear, Summer Solstice, Minor Heat, Major Heat, Start of Autumn, End of Heat, White Dew, Autumn Equinox, Cold Dew, Frost’s Descent, Start of Winter, Minor Snow, Major Snow, Winter Solstice, Minor Cold and Major Cold. On November 30, 2016, China’s “24 Solar terms” were officially inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of intangible Cultural Heritages of Humanity. We have introduced this 24 Solar terms column to bring you a taste of the beauty of traditional Chinese culture.
With the crisp winds blowing, half of autumn has passed by the time Autumn Equinox comes. Literally, translates as “Qiu Fen”, Autumn Equinox separates autumn into two parts. Afterwards, the daytime gets shorter while the nights become longer.
According to research, the Autumn Equinox used to be a traditional day for moon worship. However, there isn’t always a full moon on this day, so the Mid-Autumn Festival has gradually taken over this duty.
After the Autumn Equinox, it’s time for the harvest and feasts. In the northern part of China, people pick cotton and plant wheat, while in the south, farmers harvest rice and prepare to grow rapeseeds. In addition, efficiency is important. In most areas the rainy season has just ended and the temperature drops so fast, which urges farmers to take their time to prevent the crops from freezing to death. A famous saying goes, “food is the first necessity of the people”. With this in mind, Autumn Equinox has been designated as the “Chinese Farmers’ Harvest Festival by the government since 2018.
Ancient customs have also been passed down to tell people how to stay healthy in such dry weather. As the temperature gradually falls, people get cold and their skin will be roughened up easily. Breathing exercises can be used to moisten the lungs. In terms of diet, it’s best to eat more smooth and nourishing foods, such as sesame, honey, white fungus and so on. As the 2022 Autumn Equinox approaches, we can all look forward to a comfortable, pleasant Autumn Equinox to relax after the hot summer.