Enjoy the Timeless Beauty of Spring Solar Terms
Embrace the New Year with the beauty and wisdom of the ancient Chinese calendar
In the first days of February when snow still covers the ground, life begins to wake beneath the frozen surface. This is still the coldest time of the year, but for the ancient Chinese this was actually the beginning of spring. According to the ancient Chinese solar calendar, the year was divided not only into lunar months, but also into solar terms.
The 24 solar terms are each approximately two weeks long. They serve as miniature seasons unto themselves. Each term has its own characteristics that guide people to adjust their lifestyles, diets, and work to match the rhythms of nature.
Just as most of us keep a regular schedule each day—when we wake up, work, eat, and rest—nature has its own clock. The solar terms mark time for the year and they also indicate the changes of the earth. By living in tune with these solar terms, we can bring more balance to our lives.
There is poetry to the solar terms and the way in which they connect people with the natural world. This legacy stretches back beyond written history and the descriptions of these terms were refined over thousands of years. In this issue, Magnifissance tries to capture some of that poetry and the wisdom contained within.
Flip through the following pages to discover the year’s first six solar terms and the beauty that characterizes each one. Contemplate the changes in each term and connect with the wonder of nature, which can be seen even in the smallest details.
The Beginning of Spring
February 4 –19, 2022
The first solar term of the year is simply called The Beginning of Spring. The southern areas begin to thaw, warm winds find their way north, and the most festive season of the Chinese calendar starts.
The Lunar New Year generally falls within the first solar term. Even though snow still covers the mountains, a sense of hope appears, enticing us with the opportunities that await us in the coming year.
The earth is coming back to life and is getting ready to welcome the flowers of the spring. Insects begin to stir beneath the soil, while fish swim closer to the surface of the river.
Spring is a time of growth, of reaching outward, and of looking ahead. According to traditional Chinese wisdom there are five seasons—summer is split into two—and they’re each associated with one of the five fundamental elements. Spring’s element is wood. Its roots grow into the ground and its branches stretch into the sky. Think of how the body needs to stretch and warm up in the early morning. Now is the time for the earth to do the same.
February 19 – March 5, 2022
Warm winds bring rain during the second solar term, allowing grass and trees to sprout. Otters feast on fish in the warming rivers. Wild geese begin their long flight north. The first flowers are just around the corner.
Prepare a pot of spring tea. Lift your spirits and take it easy as the winter weather gives way to milder temperatures. It can be damp outside in this solar term, so eat warm foods and drink lots of fluids. There’s a reason why we all make New Year’s resolutions to clean up our diet and exercise more. This is a good time to focus on the health of our liver, kick bad habits, and set a better course for the year.
Follow your body’s needs and don’t let a cold rain storm bring you down. Read a good book and stay positive—warm days are on the way.
March 5 – March 20, 2022
Spring thunderstorms awaken the hibernating insects. They take flight and begin their roles in the great play of the season. We don’t always welcome their presence, but without the bugs the birds can’t eat and the flowers can’t spread their pollen.
When the insects arrive, their buzz invigorates everything else. Peach blossoms add new colour to the scenery, farmers begin to plough their fields, and the sound of songbirds lends a cheerful tone to the morning.
A warm afternoon may suddenly appear during this solar term, so be ready to embrace the good weather when it comes. Go outdoors when you can and try to exercise more. The stored up energy of the winter is ready to be released.
March 20 – April 5, 2022
The days are getting longer in this solar term. It’s a time of high energy, with a plethora of flowers vying to be the most beautiful, while swallows and finches fill the air and feast on the active bugs.
The vernal equinox marks the beginning of spring in the West, a month later than in the traditional Chinese calendar, but everyone can agree that by this time spring has fully arrived. Warm winds carry the scent of cherry blossoms across the land, lending their perfume to celebrations, weddings, and festivals everywhere.
Collect fresh flowers and tree trimmings from around your neighbourhood to create your own bouquets, or try your hand at an ikebana arrangement. You can’t go wrong with a vase of fresh blooms, so go ahead and get creative.
April 5 – April 20, 2022
During the Pure Brightness solar term the sky is clear, the air is fresh, and the colours reach their peak. Fresh leaves adorn the trees and the grass turns bright green.
April showers are just beginning, and there’s no better time to catch a rainbow in the sky. The tea harvest begins and green willow branches dance in warm winds.
Take time to focus on your breath and fill your lungs with fresh air before slowly exhaling. Visit local parks and gardens to absorb everything this solar term has to offer.
April 20 – May 5, 2022
This last solar term of spring is the time to plant crops. Grain Rain brings moisture for seeds to take hold in the fields. Even the ponds turn green this time of year, with duckweed and lily pads taking over the surface of the water.
Summer is just around the corner, but there’s still time before its arrival. The sun rises earlier each morning and rain cools the air, creating a stimulating environment for hard work. Farmers spend their days in the fields. As the saying goes, ‘Work hard now, and you’ll reap the benefits later.’ Nothing eases the mind for a good night’s rest so much as a long day of labour.