The 24 solar terms are two-week periods that make up a climate-based calendar system invented by the ancient Chinese over 2,000 years ago. This article series delves into each of the solar terms that occur throughout the year, offering practical advice and wisdom on navigating each one.
The start of “Spring Begins” falls each year between Feb. 3 and Feb. 5, when the weather remains cold. The spring equinox arrives about 45 days later. At this time, the earth has absorbed enough heat that nature begins to show signs of life–insects start to move their wings and fish swim more actively under the ice.
Is the natural rhythm inside the human body different to other creatures? Traditional Chinese medicine and solar term theory would say no. Accordingly, at this time, we need to rise earlier to absorb the yang energy from the sun, and eat spring vegetables to recharge our body.
The movement of the sun, scientifically speaking, regulates the four seasons and all living beings on earth. The patterns of agriculture, diet, health, and disease that can be observed through different times of the year can all be correlated to the solar terms. This system is a perfect example of the ancient Chinese belief in the harmony of heaven, earth, and living beings.
There are 24 solar terms in one calendar year, six for each season. Yet there are two solar terms named for spring, suggesting there are two spring arrivals in the same season. Why?
This relates to a philosophical understanding the Chinese hold, in which both the tangible and the intangible (or the natural and supernatural) exist in tandem. A common example is how the Chinese count the age of a newborn baby by including the time it spent in the womb.
In the calendar, “Spring Begins” marks the beginning of the season’s incubation, while “Spring Equinox” marks its maturity. The two are normally 45 days apart, similar to the set period of 280 days between conception and birth.
Yin and yang, the intangible and the tangible, and the concept of five elements are all included within the system of solar term theories. Spring is said to belong to the wood element, which is associated with the liver and spicy foods.
Here are some easy tips to get your body ready for spring, by getting rid of winter dullness and accumulated toxins:
- Dry brushing: Use soft brushes with natural animal hair in a circular motion on palms, calves, and thighs. This helps to release toxins, wakes up the senses, and improves circulation. It also helps to remove dead skin cells and beautify and tone the skin.
- Comb your hair: Comb the hair with a wooden brush and use the brush to massage the scalp, from the top to the center-back of the head. You can also use the fingertips for a gentler massage.
- Rice soup: The best food to prepare our organs for the spring season is congee, a rice soup with beans or assorted grains. Soak the grains for at least two hours or overnight, then cook with low heat to produce a thick and nourishing spring pick-me-up food.
- Spring spices: Shallot, onion, leeks, and garlic are very good additives to any dish during this time. Consume these frequently to warm up the body and repel the winter chill.
- Tea: Vanilla bean, cinnamon, or chai tea can help kickstart the body into the vigor of spring.
- Chest: For those who often get the flu, or are coughing in the spring, rub sandalwood or frankincense oils onto the center of the chest to prevent coldness from getting into the body through the lungs.
- Foot bath: Vetiver oil is great for warming cold feet; ginger works well too.
Epoch Times contributor Moreen Liao is a certified aromatherapist; former dean of the New Directions Institute of Natural Therapies in Sydney, Australia; group vice president of New Directions Australia; and founder of Ausganica, one of Australia’s leading makers of certified organic skincare and cosmetics. Visit Ausganica.com