In China, the lunar calendar divides the year into 24 solar terms. The solar terms were created thousands of years ago to guide agricultural production and function even now.
The 21st solar term of the year is Major Snow (Chinese: Da xue), which begins on Dec 7 and ends on Dec 22 in 2014.
Here are some things you should know about Major Snow.
During Major Snow, the temperature drops significantly. The snow in the north may last a whole day, breaking the branches and blocking the road. About the snow, a proverb goes “A timely snow promises a good harvest.” As the snow covers the ground, the pests living through the winter will be killed by the low temperature.
Wintersweet usually blossoms in mid-to-late December in some southern cities of China. Sometimes it even blooms earlier. Wintersweet originated in China and is highly appreciated in Chinese culture for its endurance in severe winters. With pine and bamboo, it is referred to as one of the Three Friends of Winter.
Lamb is the main food chosen by Chinese people during Major Snow. It is excellent for nourishing the body, promoting blood circulation and providing protection against the cold. People like to have potted lamb soup or stewed lamb soup with their families and friends.
During Major Snow, Chinese people in South China such as in Nanjing, Hangzhou, Hefei, Chongqing make sausages, an important part of preparation for the Spring Festival. The best meat for sausage is that of the pig's buttock. The sausage should be dried in a well-ventilated place in the shade. After a week, they are edible. Cut a certain amount off, and boil or fry it as you like.
Warm porridge could help increase one's personal heat and nourish the body in cold weather. In China, there is custom to eat red bean porridge on the first day of Winter Solstice and eight-treasure porridge on the eighth day of the last month of the lunar year. In addition, there are other porridges such as wheat porridge, sesame porridge, radish porridge, walnut porridge and poria cocos porridge.
Preventing respiratory illness
The Chinese people during this period pay attention to the outbreak of respiratory illness, which can be prevented by wearing a warm scarf to protect the neck and drinking water in a right way. During Major Snow, it is drier and colder, so people should drink more water. But one should not drink too much water at once. At the same time, don't drink cold water after exercise.