Chinse 24 Seasonal Segments and Festivals

24 Seasonal segments and most important festivals in Chinese Calendar



This is a brief introduction of Chinese 24 Seasonal Segmentment (Jieqi), and three most important traditional festivals in Chinese Calendar.

Chinese 24 Seasonal Segments

The ecliptic is the great circle representing the apparent annual path of the sun or the plane of the Earth’s orbit around the sun. In Chinese calendar, the ecliptic (Yellow Path, or “Huangdao” in Chinese, is path of the sun as seen from earth) was divided into 24 equal parts of 15 degrees, every segment was called a Jieqi.
1 Li Chun 立 春 Beginning of spring (Spring Festival)
2 Yu Shui 雨 水 Rain water
3 Jing Zhe 惊 蛰 Waking of insects
4 Chun Fen 春 分 Spring equinox (March 21)
5 Qing Ming 清 明 Clear brightness
6 Gu Yu 谷 雨 Grain rain
7 Li Xia 立 夏 Beginning of summer
8 Xiao Man 小 满 Grain full
9 Mang Zhong 芒 种 Grain in ear
10 Xia Shi 夏 至 Summer solstice (June 22)
11 Xiao Shu 小 暑 Slight heat
12 Da Shu 大 暑 Great heat
13 Li Qiu 立 秋 Beginning of autumn
14 Chu Shu 处 暑 Limit of heat
15 Bai Lu 白 露 White dew
16 Qiu Fen 秋 分 Autumnal equinox (September 23)
17 Han Lu 寒 露 Cold dew
18 Shuang Jiang 霜 降 Descent of Frost
19 Li Dong 立 冬 Beginning of winter
20 Xiao Xue 小 雪 Slight snow
21 Da Xue 大 雪 Great snow
22 Dong Zhi 冬 至 Winter solstice (December 22)
23 Xiao Han 小 寒 Slight cold
24 Da Han 大 寒  Great cold  [1]
Most of the important festivals are celebrated on the day which has same number as its month or on the 15th day of the month, the former may has numerological meanings, the latter has religious meanings. For example, Dragon Boat Festival is observed on 5th day of the 5th month, Chinese Valentine’s Day on 7th Day of the seventh month, The Double Ninth Festival (also named Chong Yang Festival) on the ninth day of the ninth month, while Qing MIng (Clear Bright Festival) on the 4th/5th day of the 4th month of the Chinese lunar calendar; There is a saying that “the 1st day and 15th day every month, Budha’s gate opens”, so these two days are very important. Mid-Autumn Festival are celebrated on 15th day of the 8th month, while the Ghost Festival is on the Middle of the Seventh Month, and off course Chinese New Year starts on the first day of each year. the celebration may stretch from 24 of the twelveth month of old year to 15th first month (Yuan Xiao, Lantern Festival) of the new year, though.

Clear Bright Festival (Qing Ming)

Most of the Chinese festivals are based on 24 seasonal segments, one of them is Qingming festival. Ching Ming Festival (Clear Bright Festival, Ancestors Day or Tomb Sweeping Day) is a traditional Chinese festival on the 104th day after the winter solstice (or the 15th day from the Spring Equinox), usually occurring around April 5 of the Gregorian calendar. Its name denotes a time for people to go outside and enjoy the greenery of springtime (踏青 Tàqīng, “treading on the greenery”) and tend to the graves of departed ones. Qingming has been regularly observed as a statutory public holiday in Taiwan and in the Chinese jurisdictions of Hong Kong and Macau. Its observance was suppressed in mainland China by the ruling Communist Party in 1949 but was reinstated as a public holiday in 2008.[2]

The Dragon Boat Festival (Duan Wu)

Another important festival is The Dragon Boat Festival(Duan wu). The Duan Wu festival has been observed at the fifth day of the fifth month in Chinese Calendar, or double fifth. The Dragon Boat Festival is believed to have originated in ancient China which was related to the commemoration of the death Qu Yuan, who was a poet and statesman of the Chu kingdom during the Warring States period, and suicided in 278 BC.The traditional food is Zongzi,an angular rice ball wrapped in reed or bamboo leaves, and activity is dragon boat competition.[3]

Chinese Valentine’s Day (Qi Xi)

Qi Xi (literally means “The Night of Sevens”), also known as Magpie Festival, The Festival to Plead for Skills, The Seventh Sister’s Birthday. It is a traditional festival, but it sometimes also called  Chinese Valentine’s Day in recent years, which is paralleled with the western Valentine’s Day, Qixi is observed on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month in the Chinese calendar. 
A love story for this day is about the 7th daughter of Emperor of Heaven and an orphaned cowherd. The Emperor separated them. The 7th daughter was forced to move to the star Vega and the cowherd moved to the star Altair. They are allowed to meet only once a year on the day of 7th day of 7th lunar month.

The story began from the good-looking poor orphaned boy living with his elder brother and sister-in-law. After his parents past away, his brother inherited the house and the land. The boy owned an old ox. He needed to work on the farm’s field with the ox everyday. So he was called a cowherd.

The 7th daughter of Emperor is good at handcrafting, especially weaving clothing. So she was called a Weaving Maid. The Emperor likes her skill to weave clouds and rainbows to beautify the world.[4]


The Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhong Qiu)

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival is one of the most important festivals in Chinese calendar, which is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, which is usually around mid or late September in the Gregorian calendar. It is a date that parallels the autumn and spring Equinoxes of the solar calendar, when the moon is supposedly at its fullest and roundest. The traditional food of this festival is the mooncake, of which there are many different varieties.[5]

Chongyang Festival (Double Ninth)

The Double Ninth Festival, also named Chong Yang Festival, falls on the ninth day of the ninth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, hence it gets name of Double Ninth Festival. On this day, people would like to drink chrysanthemum wine and have chrysanthemum cakes.
The chrysanthemum is a plant often used as a Chinese herbal medicine. People in ancient times believed that, in addition to detoxifcation, chrysanthemum could drive away evil spirits and prevent one from getting a chill in late autumn. So, making and drinking chrysanthemum could be traced back many centuries, and it became the traditional food on Double Ninth Festival, to avoid evil spirits and misfortunes. Besides, the Chinese word for wine is Jiu, a homonym of the Chinese word for “long”, symbolizing longevity. [6]

1 Comment

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  1. Narayana Rao

    Please make the spelling correction in the title. — Interesting info. Thank you.

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