The traditional Chinese lunar calendar divides the year into 24 solar terms. Major Snow (Chinese: 大雪), the 21st solar term of the year, begins this year on Dec 7 and ends on Dec 21.
During Major Snow, the snow becomes heavy and begins to accumulate on the ground. The temperature drops significantly.
Here are six things you should know about Major Snow.
The snow in North China may last a whole day, breaking tree branches and blocking the road. The natural scenery is "hundreds of leagues ice-bound go; over thousands of leagues flies snow". In the south, snowflakes fall and the world turns white.
A proverb about the snow says, "A timely snow promises a good harvest". As the snow covers the ground, the low winter temperature kills pests.
Appreciating plum blossoms
Plum blossoms usually flower in mid-to-late December in some southern cities of China, and sometimes bloom even earlier. The plum blossom, which originated in China, is revered in Chinese culture for its resilience during severe winters. Along with the pine and bamboo, the plum blossom is considered one of the Three Friends of Winter.
Lamb is a favorite food for Chinese people during Major Snow. It's 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 lamb with yams or wolfberries to make it more nutritious.
During Major Snow, people in southern China, including Nanjing, Hangzhou, Hefei and Chongqing, make sausages, an important part of preparation for Spring Festival.
The best meat for sausage comes from the butt of the pig. The sausage should be dried in a well-ventilated place in the shade, and is edible after a week. Cut off a certain amount, and boil or fry it as you like.
Hot porridge could help warm you and nourish your body in cold weather. In China, it's customary to eat red bean porridge on the first day of Major Snow and eight-treasure porridge on the eighth day of the last month of the lunar year. In addition, there are other varieties such as wheat porridge, sesame porridge, radish porridge, walnut porridge and tuckahoe porridge.
Preventing respiratory illness
During this period, Chinese people watch for outbreaks of respiratory illness, which can be prevented by wearing a warm scarf to protect the neck and properly drinking water. During Major Snow, it's drier and colder, so people should drink more water. But you should not drink too much water at once. At the same time, don't drink cold water after exercise.