On December 6th we move into the solar term of 大雪Dàxuě (Chinese), Taisetsu (Japanese) 대설 Daeseol Korean and Đại tuyết (Vietnamese). It is literally translated as major snow and is the 21st solar term. It snows heavily for the first time in the year, in northern China, at least and is the start of the really snowy season. It will end on 21 December. The first of the three pentads for major snow ls 鶡旦不鳴, ‘The long tailed pheasant does not cry at dawn.” As winter progresses, even this active bird slows and ceases to crow. The second is 虎始交, ‘Tigers begin to mate” The third 荔挺生 I have found no translation I am happy with. The first character is sometimes translated as lichee. Sheng, the third character can mean to grow and ting, the second character can mean straight, erect or to stick out. I think this probably refers to the blooming of the lichees. They reproduce from new growth at the ends of branches and do bloom in winter. This happens mostly in southern China as lichees are considered a tropical fruit and grown in Guangdong and Fujian in southern China.
During Major Snow, the snow becomes heavy and begins to accumulate on the ground. The temperature drops significantly. In North China it may snow for days, breaking tree branches and blocking the roads. The natural scenery is “ice blockading for hundreds miles and snow flying through thousands miles”. In the South, the snowflakes fly and the world turns white. There is a proverb about the snowfall. “A timely snow promises a good harvest”. As the snow covers the ground, insect pests in the ground winter will be killed by the low temperature.
Thankfully for us here we are predicted to be warm enough to only have rain for the next few weeks. I had to call the painter to ask him to pease come back and finish the windows and put the storm windows back on. I will probably wind up doing it myself. I also contacted the guy who was doing the floors. He did not return my msg, although someone told me his brother died, so I will assume it was because of that and try again today. Bu contractors here are just so unprofessional.
Wintersweet usually blossoms in mid-to-late December in some southern cities of China. Sometimes it even blooms earlier. Wintersweet originated in China and is highly appreciated in Chinese culture for its endurance in severe winters. With pine and bamboo, it is referred to as one of the Three Friends of Winter.
Lamb and mutton are very popular with Chinese people during Major Snow, especially in the north. It is excellent for nourishing the body, promoting blood circulation and providing protection against the cold. People in Chongqing like to have potted lamb soup or stewed lamb soup with their families and friends. Nanjing residents like to stew the lamb with yams or wolfberries to make it more nutritious.
During Major Snow, Chinese people in South China make sausages, an important part of preparation for the Spring Festival. The best meat for sausage is that of the pig’s buttock. The sausage should be dried in a well-ventilated place in the shade. After a week, they are edible. The sections of sausage are usually boiled or fried. .
Another food which grows in popularity at this time, warm porridge or congee is considered to help increase one’s personal heat and nourish the body in cold weather, much as oatmeal is considered in the west. In China, there is custom to eat red bean porridge on the first day of Winter Solstice and eight-treasure porridge on the eighth day of the last month of the lunar year. In addition, there are other porridges such as wheat porridge, sesame porridge, radish porridge, and walnut porridge.
The Chinese people during this period are on guard against the outbreak of respiratory illness, which they believe can be prevented by wearing a warm scarf to protect the neck and throat. Also, during Major Snow, it is drier and colder, so people should drink more water. But there is a right way one should go about it, not drinking too much water at once or drinking very cold water,especially after exercise.
If you live in a snowier area outside China a lot of the advice is still good. Even here in Virginia adjusting the diet to the weather and taking steps to stay warm and healthy pays off. With all may cats to look after I can’t reall afford to get sick.