CULTURE 24 Solar Terms: Things you may not know about Autumn Equinox


24 Solar Terms: Things you may not know about Autumn Equinox

People's Daily app

09:14, September 22, 2020

Autumn Equinox, the 16th of the 24 Solar Terms in the Chinese lunar calendar, falls on September 22 this year. The autumn equinox has customs such as sacrificing to the moon, standing eggs on end and eating Autumn Vegetables. 


(Illustration: Jian Shan, Beijing International Design Week)

On the Autumn Equinox, the autumn is “halved” with the day and night at equal lengths. Contrary to the longer days and shorter nights after the Spring Equinox, the Autumn Equinox features shorter days and longer night, along with the active cold air and the fast-descending temperature. At this time, wild geese and swallows are flying in groups from the north to the south.


(Photo: IC)

Since 2018, the country has made the Autumn Equinox“the Chinese Farmers’ Harvest Festival”. The celebration of this festival will enhance the enthusiasm, initiative and creativity of millions of farmers, contributing to the smooth implementation of the rural revitalization strategy.

Sacrifice to the moon

In the Zhou Dynasty (c. 11th century-771 BC), ancient emperors developed the custom of offering sacrifices to the sun on the Spring Equinox, to the land on the Summer Solstice, to the moon on the Autumn Equinox, and finally to the heaven on the Winter Solstice. On the Autumn Equinox, emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties worshiped the moon at the Moon Altar. As the Book of Rites says: “The emperor sacrificed to the sun in the morning of spring and to the moon in the evening of autumn.” This custom was not only practiced by the court and upper-class nobles, but also by the regular folks as society evolved. 

Stand eggs on end


Two children try to make eggs stand on end. (Photo: China Daily) 

On autumn equinox of each year, tens of millions of people all over the world are standing eggs on end. This Chinese custom has existed for over 4,000 years and has become a “world game” as it seems easy to play. To play you choose a smooth, well-proportioned fresh egg that is four or five days old, and erect it gently on the table. The key to winning lies in the shift of the center of gravity to the lowest part of the egg. Celebrating the arrival of autumn, the game also embodies people’s respect for life and fertility.

Eat Autumn Vegetables


(File Photo: IC)

“Eating Autumn Vegetables on Autumn Equinox” is a custom in the Lingnan area. An “Autumn vegetable”, a kind of wild amaranth, is often picked and made into “Autumn soup” with fish fillets. It is believed that by drinking the soup, the liver and intestines will be cleansed, and family and friends will be safe and healthy.

(Compiled by Song Zhe) 

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