A solar term is a period of about two weeks, based on the sun’s position in the zodiac. Solar terms form the traditional Chinese calendar system. The calendar follows the ancient Chinese belief that living in accordance with nature will enable one to live a harmonious life. This article series explores each solar term, offering guidance on how to best navigate the season.
Winter Commences (Nov. 7–21) is the first solar term of winter. Far from being too cold to enjoy, now is the time for harvesting grains and roots, savoring cold-hearty chrysanthemums, and partaking in or making warming wines.
The traditional Chinese calendar system recognizes winter a full six weeks earlier than what most Americans know as winter’s start, but we can already see proof in the colder parts of the world that water is starting to freeze, and frost is starting to blanket the ground.
Plants that live above the ground have mostly stopped growing due to the cold, while grains and roots vegetables are at their peak. For wildlife and people, it is the season to hibernate and conserve energy.
Now is a good time to make wine as the temperatures are perfect to facilitate winemaking without risking fermentation or spoiling.
And a special treat, beautiful chrysanthemums are in full bloom during this time.
The abundant petals of certain species of chrysanthemums can be enjoyed as a tea, which is especially gorgeous to admire in a glass teapot.
Petals may also be cooked into a hot soup or stew, together with meat or beans. Chinese chrysanthemum is thought to cleanse the lungs and blood and prevent buildup inside the blood vessels.
If you want to try cooking with chrysanthemum, make the soup base, and add the petals at the end of the cooking process.
Although it is getting too cold outdoors for most plants to grow, there’s a nice and aromatic one we can keep indoors around this time: daffodils!
Now is the perfect time to plant daffodil bulbs. Water it throughout the winter and it will be ready in early spring with both its aroma and pretty flowers. It will lift your mood in the grey, cold days with anticipation for its delicate scent and elegant shapes.
Impact on People
It is very common to feel depressed around this time of the year. The body feels cold, the sky is dark, and we feel sleepy.
A nice energy recharge is highly recommended. Try basking in the midday sun, drinking quality herbal tea, or listening to classical music like Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, or Shen Yun Performing Arts Orchestra. For the most fortunate ones, you may find Shen Yun performing in your area. Check it out!
Living in Harmony With ‘Winter Commences’
A midday walk in the sun helps to counteract the underlying mood of the season.
It reduces the chances of suffering from seasonal depression, improves the immune system, improves our absorption of Vitamin D, helps the body metabolize carbohydrates, and improves circulation of both blood and energy.
It is particularly beneficial for elderly people.
Going to bed early, and getting up late is also recommended, and restraint of sexual activity in winter is also mentioned in the traditional Chinese medical texts.
Always cover the skin when exposing yourself to the cold air, or it will consume too much yang energy, and the muscles & fascia will feel tight and sore in the coming spring.
Ginger is your best ingredient right now. It can be added to almost anything on the table. It can be eaten raw or cooked, in either savory or sweet dishes, and in any shape, from big chunks in soup to finely chopped bits in ginger cookies.
Ginger helps to improve circulation, repel the chill, and remove buildup in the body. It is said that ginger was the favorite food of Confucius, who was a famous teacher, scholar, and virtuous politician, who lived (551–479 B.C.) during China’s Spring and Autumn period.
Thick, hearty soups are especially suitable for this time. Try to use root vegetables and lean meats, instead of heavy cream or fat, to reduce the burden on the heart.
Nut creams, such as soaked and blended cashews, are a good, healthier option for those who love thick, creamy soups.
Also enjoy blackberries, carrots, curry, dates, duck, goji berries, kelp, lamb, leeks, mulberries, sesame oil, shellfish, shiitake mushrooms, spinach, sweet potatoes, and walnuts.
Seasonal Herbs and Essential Oils
Try using beauty products featuring seasonal essential oils, or using an essential oil diffuser to enjoy the balancing scents of birch, cedarwood, cinnamon, clary sage, ginger, rose, rosewood, rose geranium, or wintergreen.
Epoch Times contributor Moreen Liao is a descendant of four generations of traditional Chinese medicine doctors. She is also a certified aromatherapist and the founder of Ausganica, a manufacturer of salon-quality, certified organic cosmetics. Visit Ausganica.com