Search Tour
Your Budget
Duration
Visiting
Tailor made China tours & customised China tours
Ask Question? Ask us here
Name
Tel
Email

The 24 Solar Terms

Solar Terms is a calendar that was established in ancient China and is based on astronomical, climatologic and agricultural meteorological knowledge, with its main use to guide farm work. The 24 Solar Terms reflect the change of seasons and dictate people's agricultural activities. Generally, it has influenced Chinese people's fundamental routine of life for thousands of years.

Origin
There was an initial calendar created according to both the solar variation and the lunar cycle during the Warring States period and the Spring and Autumn period. However, China was an agricultural society then and agricultural activities were totally in accordance with solar variation. On this account, in the Qin Dynasty, people set up a calendar with 24 Solar Terms according to the sun's position on the ecliptic. In the West Han Dynasty, Emperor Wu of Han ordered his ministers to establish a full calendar, the "Taichu Calendar", and officially included the 24 Solar Terms as well as verifying the astronomical position of each term.

Dividing basis of the 24 Solar Terms
Ancient Chinese people divided the ecliptic equally into 24 segments, and each segment occupies 15 degrees, forming a 360 degree circle as a whole year. As the periods of the sun move from one segment to the next they are almost equal, with the dates of the 24 Solar Terms calculated on the basis of the solar calendar.

Name and meaning of the 24 Solar Terms
The 24 segments were named according to the climate, weather and an astronomical phenomenon. For instance, some of the terms reflect the change of seasons, such as the Beginning of Spring, the Beginning of Summer; some indicate the turning points of the direct sunlight point, such as Vernal Equinox, Summer Solstice; some reflect the climatic phenomenon, such as the Waking of Insects and Grain Buds and some indicate the change of climate like Rain Water and Minor Heat. Conventionally, Chinese people regard the Beginning of Spring as the first term of a Chinese Lunar Year. Detailed information about the 24 Solar Terms is shown in the following tables.

Solar Terms in Spring

Usual Translation

Chinese 
Name

Date in 2014

Meaning

The Beginning Of Spring

Lichun

Feb 4

Spring starts

Rain Water

Yushui

Feb 19

the beginning of rain

Awakening Of Insects

Jingzhe

Mar 6

waking of hibernating insects and small animals

Vernal Equinox

Chunfen

Mar 21

the middle of Spring, day and night are of equal length

Pure Brightness

Qingming

Apr 5

the weather gets warmer; time for tomb sweeping

Grain Rain

Guyu

Apr 20

rainfall help grain to grow


Solar Terms in Summer

Usual Translation

Chinese Name

Date in 2014

Meaning

The Beginning of Summer

Lixia

May 5

Summer starts

Grain Buds

Xiaoman

May 21

grains become plump

Grain in Ear

Mangzhong

Jun 6

grains are ripe and time to start growing autumn crops

Summer Solstice

Xiazhi

Jun 21

longest daytime and the shortest night of the year

Minor Heat

Xiaoshu

Jul 7

the beginning of hot weather

Major Heat

Dashu

Jul 23

the hottest time of the year


Solar Terms in Autumn

Usual Translation

Chinese Name

Date in 2014

Meaning

The Beginning of Autumn

Liqiu

Aug 7

Autumn starts

The End of Heat

Chushu

Aug 23

the end of Summer, and hot weather over

White Dew

Bailu

Sep 7

dew curdles and the weather starts to get cold

Autumn Equinox

Qiufen

Sep 23

the middle of Autumn, day and night are of equal length

Cold Dew

Hanlu

Oct 8

the weather gets distinctively colder, and leaves begin to fall

Frost Descent

Shuangjiang

Oct 23

frost in the early mornings and late evenings and drop in temperature


Solar Terms in Winter

Usual Translation

Chinese Name

Date in 2014

Meaning

The beginning of Winter

Lidong

Nov 7

Winter starts

Slight Snow

Xiaoxue

Nov 22

it starts to snow

Heavy Snow

Daxue

Dec 7

it snows heavily in some areas

Winter Solstice

Dongzhi

Dec 22

shortest daytime and the longest night of the year

Minor Cold

Xiaohan

Jan 6, 2015

approaching the coldest day of the year

Major Cold

Dahan

Jan 20, 2015

the coldest time of the year