Chinese Name: 春分
English Name: Chunfen; The Spring Equinox; the 4th of the 24 solar terms
Date: March 20 or 21
Sun Position: Celestial Longitude of 0°
Chunfen 春分 is the fourth of the 24 Solar Terms二十四节气. It begins when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 0° and ends when it reaches the longitude of 15°.
Chunfen signals the equal length of the day and night time. On the day of the Spring Equinox, the sun is directly above the equator. After the Chunfen, the sun moves northwards, resulting in gradually longer day time in the Northern Hemisphere and longer night in the Southern Hemisphere.
According to the traditional Chinese health regimen, on this very day, more vegetables and fruits are recommended to supplement the body’s loss in winter, achieving an inner balance of Yin and Yang
The Chunfen is a relatively important solar term. During the period time of the Spring Equinox, the sun is almost directly on the earth’s equator, which results in an equal length of day and night. In China, except the Tibetan Plateau(青藏高原), the northeast, the northwest and the northern part of North China, all enter the bright and beautiful weather. Every year around Chunfen, the first flowers begin to bloom and trees start to blossom in a riot of bright colors. On this particular date, heat and cold are precisely well balanced.
From the perspective of climate law, the precipitation in the south of the Yangtze River(长江) increased rapidly at this time, and entered the spring “peach blossom flood”( it refers to flood) period; in the vast areas of Northeast, North China and Northwest where ” the rainfall in spring is as precious as oil “, there is still very little precipitation, and the threat of resisting spring drought is the main problem of agricultural production.
The ancient Chinese people divided the fifteen days of the Spring Equinox into three pentads. As the old saying goes, swallows fly back to the North in the first pentad; thunder cracks the sky in the second pentad; lightning occurs frequently in the third pentad, which vividly reveals the climate feature during the Chunfen.
Health Methods in Chunfen
Due to the Chunen divides day and night, cold and heat equally, people should pay attention to maintaining the balance of Yin and Yang of the human body when maintaining health. Modern medical research indicates that the uncoordinated metabolism can lead to the appearance of an unbalanced state of certain elements in the body which cause the occurrence of diseases and shortens human life.
The practice of traditional Chinese medicine has proved that no matter tonic or purging, it is necessary to adhere to the adjustment of Yin and Yang, and to carry out scientific diet and health care according to the principle of equalization, in order to effectively prevent and control many non-infectious diseases. For example, when cooking cold foods such as fish, shrimp, and crab, it is necessary to add warm seasonings such as onion, ginger, wine, and vinegar to ensure that the warm and cold are neutralized and achieve a healthy balance.
Egg-standing games 竖蛋游戏
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.
Some believe that the Spring Equinox is the best time to practice this game because on this day the axis of the earth is relatively balanced against the orbital plane of the earth’s rotation around the sun, which makes it easier to erect an egg. In addition, it is best to choose eggs 4 to 5 days after birth, because at this time, the yolk sinks, and the center of gravity of the egg drops, which is conducive to the erection of the egg.
Flying kites 放风筝
Spring Equinox is a good time to fly kites. In ancient times, people did not have good medical resources. So to pray for health, they wrote their medical issues on the paper kite. When the kite was in the air, people would cut off the string to let the paper kite float away, symbolizing the flying away of diseases.
Later flying kites developed into a popular game of spring. On the Spring Equinox, people write a blessing on the kite, hoping that the gods in the sky would see it.
Eating spring vegetables 吃春菜
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. The ancient teachings in the Chinese classic, Huangdi Neijing(黄帝内经), suggests that people eat seasonal foods to help preserve health and bring good luck.
This practice is popular in the southern area of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. As the Chunfen 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.