The Beauty of Win­ter

Beijing (English) - - CONTENTS - Trans­lated by Wang Wei Edited by Justin Davis Pho­tos by Shan Yuy­ing

Lesser Cold ( xi­ao­han, be­gin­ning on Jan­uary 4, 5 or 6) is the 23rd Chi­nese so­lar term and the cold­est pe­riod of the year.

China's 24 so­lar terms ( jieqi) are part of a sys­tem of knowl­edge and so­cial prac­tice formed as a re­sult of ob­ser­va­tions about the mo­tion of the sun, sea­sonal changes through­out the year, weather and phe­nol­ogy. Each so­lar term is based on tra­di­tional per­cep­tions and un­der­stand­ings of na­ture.

Lesser Cold ( xi­ao­han, be­gin­ning around Jan­uary 4, 5 or 6) is the 23rd Chi­nese so­lar terms and the fifth so­lar term in the win­ter. When it be­gins, snow and ice that may have fallen tell peo­ple that the cold­est pe­riod of the year has ar­rived. Each so­lar term is di­vided into three pen­tads ( hou). Dur­ing the three pen­tads of Lesser Cold, bod­ies of wa­ter like lakes and rivers are usu­ally frozen. Birds and peo­ple have dif­fer­ent per­cep­tions about this pe­riod. Peo­ple may feel in­con­ve­nienced, but birds fly in the air and an­tic­i­pate the com­ing of spring. When Lesser Cold be­gins, mag­pies in the north peck dry per­sim­mons on trees and be­gin to pre­pare for nest­ing. In the south, geese be­gin to get ready to go back north. Birds usu­ally per­ceive the ap­proach­ing spring be­fore peo­ple. They sing songs that are known as “call­ing spring” by Bei­jingers, as if the sea­son is sum­moned by the birds rather than oc­cur­ring as a re­sult of nat­u­ral rhythms.

Just as there are sub­tle changes at ev­ery mo­ment in the world, the beauty of Bei­jing is dif­fer­ent ev­ery day. One can dis­cover the vi­tal­ity and beauty of na­ture pe­cu­liar to this pe­riod when vis­it­ing the city's an­cient gar­dens dur­ing the Lesser Cold pe­riod.

Seven­teen-arch Bridge in the Sum­mer Palace

1 A dec­o­ra­tion de­pict­ing a plumblos­soms on a win­dow2 A gate with tra­di­tionalChi­nese style3 A dec­o­ra­tion on the eavesof a build­ing4 Chi­nese char­ac­tersen­graved on a bronze ves­sel 5 Lion dec­o­ra­tions on abronze ves­sel

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