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The 21st Solar Term - Heavy Snow

 Arts and Culture

The traditional Chinese lunar calendar divides the year into 24 solar terms. Heavy Snow, the 21st solar term, falls on Dec.7th, 2017. As its name states, the chances are high that the most substantial snowfall of the whole year may occur during this period. Here are six things you ought to know about Heavy Snow. 

Hard Rime 

Heavy Snow is the best time for watching hard rime, the name for white ice formed by frozen fog which clings to trees and other surfaces. From every December to the next February, in Northwest China, Northeast China and most part of Yangtze River Valley, hard rime will appear depending on the conditions. Among these, the hard rime of Jilin, also called Jilin Frost, is best known to the world. The world of ice and snow which is formed by several days’ hard rime always provides travelers and photographers with a pleasant surprise.   

Preserved Meat 

As soon as Heavy Snow arrives, every family gets down to preserving meat for the upcoming Spring Festival. People preserve fish, chicken, and pork with salt, sugar, anise, Sichuan pepper, and Chinese cinnamon. They hang the preserved meat under the eaves to dry it, and sit under the roof with their family, waiting in anticipation for the most important Chinese festival. 

Tonic Food  

As the old Chinese proverb goes: “Eating nourishing food in winter makes one strong enough to beat the fierce tiger in spring.” Heavy Snow is the perfect time for tonics. Eating nourishing food in winter can improve the immune system, promote metabolism, and mostly important, strengthen our tolerance to the cold. People have developed a custom of eating citrus fruits as a significant amount of the fruits come into season during this period. In the meanwhile, ginger jujube soup and hot pot have also become firm favorites. 

A timely snow promises a good harvest 

Traditionally it is believed that an appropriate heavy snow promises a good harvest. In the deep winter, winter crops covered by snow are able to stay warm benefiting from the preservation of heat afforded by the snow. When the snow melts, it also provides water for the soil to support the growth of spring crops. That’s why farmers traditionally look forward to Heavy Snow. 

Snowball Fights 

During this period, most rivers in northern China freeze over. For children, Heavy snow means ice skating, snowball fights, building a snowman and all the other fun winter-time activities enjoyed the world over. 

Winter-sweets 

When northern China is enjoying their beautiful winter landscapes draped in snow, southern China also has its own ways to admire this term. Watching the bloom of winter-sweets is definitely one of them. Winter-sweet, bamboo and plum are together regarded as the “three durable friends of winter”. Winter-sweet’s durability during cold weather has long been highly admired by Chinese people. 

By: Xu Lanzhi

Photo: Han Baozhi

Cover Designer: Li Zhuo

Editors: Qin Mian and Christopher Peter Clarke