[Tell China Stories, Spread Chinese Culture] Slight Cold of the 24 Solar Terms

Slight Cold is the 23rd of the 24 solar terms.

It is between the second and third nine-day period of the nine periods following Winter Solstice.

It is also the sign of the beginning of the coldest days of the year.

In northern China, there is a saying "Slight Cold, Great Cold, dripping water freezes".

In regions south of the Yangtze River, there is also a saying "Slight Cold, Great Cold, ice mass appears".

At this time of the year, cold air activity is frequent, and the temperature drops significantly.

The ground is frozen in the north, while frost and snow intensify the cold in the south.

Customs of Slight Cold

  • Searching for plum blossoms in the snow

It is a good time to explore the plum blossoms as they are in bud during Slight Cold. In folklore, the plum blossom implies welcoming spring and not pursuing glory or profit, encouraging people to work hard and make progress. It also symbolizes good news for people, so most people will go out to enjoy the elegant and fragrant plum blossoms during Slight Cold.

  • Eating Laba porridge

One of the most important folk customs during Slight Cold is to eat Laba porridge. There is a saying in old Beiping, "the Laba porridge is to send the message of the coming of the Spring Festival", which means that when you eat Laba porridge on the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month, it is time to start preparing for the Chinese New Year. In the old days, on the first day of the twelfth lunar month, there was myotonin sold in streets and alleys for boiling porridge with various rice and beans. Nowadays supermarkets mix kidney beans, peas, green beans, millet, rice, etc. together for sale, calling them "Laba rice".

  • Ice play

Since the winter arrives, northern China has been extremely chill and frozen with a long ice period, often from November until the following April. Between spring and winter, ice is thick on the river surface, and the sleigh is used for ice walking. The sleigh is either pulled by a horse, or by a dog, or by a person holding a wooden pole and pushing it forward like boating. In the areas with particularly thick ice, ice beds are mostly set for pedestrians to play. Some people also race across the ice on skates, known as ice play in ancient times. This custom has continued until modern times.

Text reference:

Text: Wu Jing

Poster: Yang Yi

Translated by: Hu Qiuyu


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