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  • Gordon Dumoulin

Welcoming winter... 立冬 Lì Dōng

Today (Nov. 7) marks the beginning of winter in China with the start of the 19th solar term in the Chinese lunisolar calendar 立冬 Lì Dōng, literally 'stand up winter'. Li Dong starts when the handle of the Big Dipper points northwest and the solar longitude reaches 225 degrees. The Chinese lunar calendar is divided into 24 solar terms (节气 jiéqì) based on seasonal changes and natural phenomenon.

Each term has its own associated customs, traditions, and recipes well alive today. Also Traditional Chinese Medicine makes use of the terms, each posing opportunities or threats for your holistic health with related suggestions for food, way of life or herbal medicine during the specific terms or as preparation for next terms.

Lidong is commonly welcomed with a meal of nourishing and warm foods such as steaming dumplings or stews with medicinal herbs, usually not spicy, to increase immunity and symbolizing the time for storage of energy for the upcoming cold wintertime. Foods which are more Yang (warm) to counter the Yin (cold) coming from winter.

Lidong or the beginning of winter has also inspired Chinese poets since ancient times;

The Start of Winter, by Wang Zhi, a politician and writer during the Ming Dynasty (1379-1462)

“The autumn wind blows on the old tree in the courtyard, The guest comes through the flying leaves of yellow and red. A light in the temple and a half moon beside it, Tonight is colder than last.”

The winter comes after the autumn, and all leaves have fallen to the ground. The lonely traveler is accompanied only by the moon. The weather is colder when one is alone."

Or renowned poet Li Bai from the Tang Dynasty (701-762) about the “Start of Winter”

“My writing brush has gotten frozen, New poems are hard to write; Close to the stove, I heat my wine now and then. In drunkenness, I saw the white moonlight on the ground, As the snow covers the whole country.”

#chineseculture #chinesecalendar #chinesesociety #winter #lidong

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