An Introduction to the Chinese Lunar Calendar (Part 17): Slight Cold

Shi Ke, Ed.

PureInsight | February 3, 2003

[] The "Slight Cold" period begins on the 5th or 6th of January each year, when the position of the sun reaches 285 degrees celestial longitude. The Slight Cold, similar to the Great Cold, the Slight Heat, the Great Heat, and the Limit of Heat, is one of the 24 divisions of the year in the Lunar Chinese Calendar that marks the transition of seasons. The Illustration of 72 Times in the Lunar Calendar states, "In the division of the twelfth month of the lunar calendar, it is slightly cold in the beginning of that month. That is how the term, Slight Cold, came to existence. Starting on the fifteenth of that month, the weather becomes very cold." In other words, when the "Slight Cold" is over, the weather enters a period characterized by a Chinese idiom, "out of doors and onto the ice." This period of "Great Cold" is also known as the third nine-day period after the winter solstice (coldest days of winter).

There is a popular Chinese proverb: "Whether it is Slight Cold or Great Cold, the end result is ice-cold." Here Slight Cold denotes the degree of coldness. Slight Cold, by definition, implies a less freezing weather than the Great Cold, but the meteorological records indicate that there are many places in China where the weather during the Slight Cold is colder than that of the Great Cold. In those places, the Slight Cold is the coldest period in all the 24 divisions of the solar terms in the Chinese Lunar Calendar.

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