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solar term is any of 24 points in traditional East Asian lunisolar calendars that matches a particular astronomical event or signifies some natural phenomenon. The points are spaced 15° apart along the ecliptic and are used by lunisolar calendars to stay synchronized with the seasons, which is crucial for agrarian societies. The solar terms are also used to calculate intercalary months in East Asian calendars; which month is repeated depends on the position of the sun at the time.

Solar terms originated in China, then spread to KoreaVietnam, and Japan. This is exhibited by the fact that traditional Chinese, Hanja, and Kanji characters for most of the solar terms are identical.

Because the Sun's speed along the ecliptic varies depending on the Earth-Sun distance, the number of days that it takes the Sun to travel between each pair of solar terms varies slightly throughout the year. Each solar term is divided into three pentads (候 hou), so there are 72 pentads in a year. Each pentad consists of five, rarely six, days, and are mostly named after biological or botanical phenomena corresponding to the pentad.

List of solar termsEdit

Longi-

tude

Usual

translation

Chinese

name ¹

Japanese

name

Korean

name ²

Constellation Date ³ Remark
315° start of spring 立春

lìchūn

立春

risshun

입춘 (立春)

ipchun

Capricornus Feb 4
330° rain water 雨水

yǔshuǐ

雨水

usui

우수 (雨水)

usu

Aquarius Feb 19 more rain than snow
345° awakening of insects 驚蟄 (惊蛰)

jīngzhé

啓蟄

keichitsu

경칩 (驚蟄)

gyeongchip

Aquarius Mar 6 lit. awakening of hibernating insects. See the note at #Solar term.
vernal equinox 春分

chūnfēn

春分

shunbun

춘분 (春分)

chunbun

Pisces Mar 21 lit. spring division (or center)
15° clear and bright 清明

qīngmíng

清明

seimei

청명 (清明)

cheongmyeong

Pisces Apr 5 time for tending graves
30° grain rain 穀雨 (谷雨)

gǔyǔ

穀雨

kokuu

곡우 (穀雨)

gogu

Aries Apr 20 lit. Cereal grain rain: rain helps grain grow
45° start of summer 立夏

lìxià

立夏

rikka

입하 (立夏)

ipha

Aries May 6
60° grain full 小滿 (小满)

xiǎomǎn

小満

shōman

소만 (小滿)

soman

Taurus May 21 grains are plump
75° grain in ear 芒種 (芒种)

mángzhòng

芒種

bōshu

망종 (芒種)

mangjong

Taurus Jun 6 lit. awns (beard of grain) grow
90° summer solstice 夏至

xiàzhì

夏至

geshi

하지 (夏至)

haji

Gemini Jun 21 lit. summer extreme (of sun's height)
105° minor heat 小暑

xiǎoshǔ

小暑

shōsho

소서 (小暑)

soseo

Gemini Jul 7
120° heat 大暑

dàshǔ

大暑

taisho

대서 (大暑)

daeseo

Cancer Jul 23
135° start of autumn 立秋

lìqiū

立秋

risshū

입추 (立秋)

ipchu

Cancer Aug 8
150° limit of heat 處暑 (处暑)

chǔshǔ

処暑

shosho

처서 (處暑)

cheoseo

Leo Aug 23 lit. dwell in heat
165° white dew 白露

báilù

白露

hakuro

백로 (白露)

baekro

Leo Sep 8 condensed moisture makes dew white
180° autumnal equinox 秋分

qiūfēn

秋分

shūbun

추분 (秋分)

chubun

Virgo Sep 23 lit. autumn division (or center)
195° cold dew 寒露

hánlù

寒露

kanro

한로 (寒露)

hanlo

Virgo Oct 8
210° frost descent 霜降

shuāngjiàng

霜降

sōkō

상강 (霜降)

sanggang

Libra Oct 23 appearance of frost and descent of temperature
225° start of winter 立冬

lìdōng

立冬

rittō

입동 (立冬)

ipdong

Libra Nov 7
240° minor snow 小雪

xiǎoxuě

小雪

shōsetsu

소설 (小雪)

soseol

Scorpius Nov 22
255° major snow 大雪

dàxuě

大雪

taisetsu

대설 (大雪)

daeseol

Ophiuchus Dec 7
270° winter solstice 冬至

dōngzhì

冬至

tōji

동지 (冬至)

dongji

Sagittarius Dec 22 lit. winter extreme (of sun's height)
285° minor cold 小寒

xiǎohán

小寒

shōkan

소한 (小寒)

sohan

Sagittarius Jan 6
300° major cold 大寒

dàhán

大寒

daikan

대한 (大寒)

daehan

Capricornus Jan 20
  1. Simplified Chinese characters are shown in parentheses if they differ from the Traditional Chinese characters.
  2. Hanja is indicated in parentheses.
  3. Date can vary within a ±1 day range.

The "Song of Solar Terms" (Chinese: 節氣歌; pinyin: jiéqìgē) is used to ease the memorization of jiéqì:

Chinese

春雨驚春清穀天 夏滿芒夏暑相連 秋處露秋寒霜降 冬雪雪冬小大寒 每月兩節不變更 最多相差一兩天 上半年來六、廿一 下半年是八、廿三

Pinyin

chūn yǔ jīng chūn qīng gǔ tiān, xià mǎn máng xià shǔ xiāng lián, qiū chù lù qiū hán shuāng jiàng, dōng xuě xuě dōng xiǎo dà hán. měi yuè liǎng jié bù biàn gēng, zùi duō xiāng chā yī liǎng tiān shàng bàn nián lái liù, niàn yī xià bàn nián shì bā, niàn sān

Regional noteEdit

In Japan, the term Setsubun (節分) originally referred to the eves of Risshun (立春, 315°, the beginning of Spring) Rikka (立夏, 45°, the beginning of Summer), Risshū (立秋, 135°, the beginning of Autumn), and Rittō (立冬, 225°, the beginning of Winter), but currently mostly refers to the day before Risshun. The name of each solar term also refers to the period of time between that day and the next solar term, or 1/24th of a year.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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