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 4th solar term of the year is Spring Equinox (Chinese: Chun Fen), which begins on begins on Mar 21 and ends on Apr 4 in 2015.
The Spring Equinox signals the equal length of the day and night time. After the equinox, the sun moves northwards, resulting in gradually longer day time in the Northern Hemisphere and longer night in the Southern Hemisphere.
Here are some things you should know about Spring Equinox.
Wild geese fly north
The ancient Chinese people divided the fifteen days of the Spring Equinox into three parts, each part is 5 days. As the old saying goes, wild geese fly back to the north in the first 5-day; thunder cracks the sky in the second 5-day; lightning occurs frequently in the third 5-day, which vividly reveals the climate feature during the Spring Equinox.
Standing an egg upright is a popular game across the country during the Spring Equinox. It is an old custom that dates back to 4,000 years ago. People practice this tradition to celebrate the coming of spring. It is believed that if someone can make the egg stand, he will have good luck in the future.
Eating spring vegetables
Eating spring vegetables during the Spring Equinox is a commonly practiced custom in many regions of China. 'Spring vegetables' refers to seasonal vegetables that differ from place to place. In China, people believe that eating seasonal foods helps them to keep healthy.
Sacrifice to the God of Sun
During the Spring Equinox, an old traditional practiced by Beijing locals is offering sacrifices to the God of Sun. This tradition is called "Zhonghe Festival". The "Sun Cake", a round cake made from wheat and sugar, serves as the main offering. In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1636-1912), the imperial family held this ritual in Ritan Park every Spring Equinox. The Ritan Park gradually became a common place for public recreation. However, the practice still exists among the public.
Reward farm cattle
This practice is popular in the southern area of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. As the Spring Equinox comes, farm work starts and both the farmers and the cattle start to become busy. Farmers will reward cattle with sticky rice balls to express their gratefulness. Meanwhile, people will also make sacrifice to birds, to thank them for bringing signals for farm work and to ask them not to eat grains later in the year.