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24 Solar Terms | Start of Winter

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The Start of Winter, or "Lidong" in Chinese, is the 19th of the 24 traditional Chinese solar terms, and will last from Nov 8 to 22 this year. It is the first solar term of the changing season, indicating that winter is coming.

Here are things you should know about the Start of Winter.

Welcoming winter

In ancient times, people celebrated festivals at the beginning of every season. Before the Start of Winter, the emperor would take a shower and stop eating meat. On the same day, the emperor would lead his officials to the suburbs and perform a ceremony to "welcome the winter."

Eating dumplings

It is said that at the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD25-220), Zhang Zhongjing, who is known as the "Medical Saint", invented a food during the Start of Winter to dispel coldness and increase body heat. This food is what we call "dumplings" today. There is still a saying in China: "Eat dumplings on the Start of Winter, or your ears will be frostbitten.

"Nourishing the winter"

On the first day of the Start of Winter, there is a custom, "nourishing the winter," in Southeast China. To prepare for the oncoming cold winter, people there like to eat high-calorie foods such as chicken, beef, mutton and fish, which are usually stewed with four Chinese herbs, namely, angelica, ligusticum wallichii, Chinese herbaceous peony and rehmannia glutinosa libosch, to enhance nourishment.

Eating Chinese pumpkin

On the first day of the Start of Winter, people in Tianjin like to eat Chinese pumpkins, or "wo gua" in Chinese, which is a common vegetable in Northern China.

Eating tuanzi in Wuxi

On the first day of the Start of Winter, people in Wuxi have a custom of eating tuanzi, a traditional Chinese dish made with rice. On that day, the newly-harvested crops have just been sold on the market, which people use to make tuanzi. Mostrural residents make tuanzi by themselves, while urban residents buy it ready-made. Sweet bean paste, radish or lard can be stuffed inside the tuanzi.

Winter Swimming

In Harbin, to celebrate winter's coming, athletes in Heilongjiang Winter Swimming Association will swim across the Songhua River. Nowadays, winter swimming becomes popular in Shangqiu, Henan Province, Yichun, Jiangxi Province and Wuhan, Hubei Province.



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