The Beauty of Winter
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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