Chinese Name: 小雪
English Name: Xiaoxue; Minor Snow(Light snow); the 20th of the 24 Solar Terms
Date: November 21 (22 or 23)
Sun Position: Celestial Longitude of 240°
Xiaoxue 小雪 is the 20th of the 24 Solar Terms二十四节气. It begins when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 240° and ends when it reaches the longitude of 255°. It more often refers in particular to the day when the Sun is exactly at the celestial longitude of 240°.
Minor Snow refers to the time when it starts to snow, mostly in China’s northern areas, and the temperature continues to drop. An ancient Chinese book about plants explains that “in Minor Snow, the weather is cold and it is going to snow, while the earth is not frozen enough and the snow is light.” The temperature in most areas in the north drops to zero degrees and below. Meanwhile, in the lower and middle reaches of the Yellow River黄河, the average time of the first snow falls during the Minor Snow solar term. The snow is light and frozen at night, but melts quickly during the day.
In China, starting in Minor Snow, the wind blows from the northeast a lot. Because it’s still not bitterly cold, many people do not wear hats or scarves yet. In fact, according to an old Chinese saying, “the head is the place where all passages of the body gather”. It’s sensible to keep one’s head warm.
Xiaoxue is a solar term that reflects precipitation and temperature. It is a solar term with a high frequency of cold waves and strong cold air activities. The Minor Snow of the solar term is not necessarily related to the ‘light snow’ of the weather.
The ‘Minor Snow’ in the Xiaoxue solar term is different from the “light snow” in the daily weather forecast. The Minor Snow solar term is a climatic concept that reflects the temperature and precipitation. The light snow in the weather forecast refers to the snow with less snow intensity.
During the Xiaoxue solar term, a relatively stable meridional circulation has been established in East Asia. When it moves eastward, there will be large-scale cold air moving southward, and there will be large-scale strong winds and cooling weather in eastern China. The Xiaoxue solar term does not necessarily snow. In fact, the solar terms with the largest amount of snow all year round are not in the light snow and heavy snow solar terms.
Health tips in Xiaoxue
During Xiaoxue, people should go to bed early, and at the same time, it is not advisable to get up too early in the morning to ensure adequate sleep. At the same time, pay attention to the clothes, too thick or too thin is not good. It is recommended that people with weak constitution wear high-necked clothing when going out. In addition, because people exhale more than 20 litres of carbon dioxide per hour in a quiet state, it is necessary to open windows frequently for ventilation.
In terms of diet, eat more foods with high calories and have the effect of strengthening the brain and activating blood, such as mutton, beef, dairy, fish, and drink some tea, coffee and other beverages appropriately.
Drinking soup 喝汤
During Minor Snow, indoor heating begins to work, which means the air indoors is dry and most people might find their nose and mouth feels a bit dry. According to practices in traditional Chinese medicine, this accumulation of “inner heat” in one’s body can cause problems, including oral ulcers and breakouts. The solution is to drink more hot soup, such as cabbage and bean curd soup, spinach and bean curd soup, and mutton and radish soup.
Eating Sticky Rice Cake 吃糯米糕
In some areas of South China, people have glutinous rice cakes around Minor Snow. It has a firm custard-like texture which is different to many western palates. In ancient times, Sticky Rice Cakes were a traditional festival offering to the bull god.
Making preserved pork 腌猪肉
After Minor Snow, the temperature declines sharply and the air becomes dry. It is the best time to start making preserved pork, which by the Chinese Spring Festival would be ready to enjoy. In the past, when storage conditions were poor, people developed many ways to store food and preserved pork is one such example. So even in the bitter winter, the whole family could enjoy meat. Some even say preserved pork tastes more delicious than fresh meat.
Making pickled vegetables 制作腌菜
For thousands of years, the people of Nanjing, Jiangsu province, have welcomed Minor Snow with pickled vegetables made in different ways. Nanjing is known for its pickled vegetables. In the past, due to inconvenient transportation, vegetables sold in Nanjing were few and expensive. Thus people there made pickled vegetables for the winter.