Lichun

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Solar term
 Longi-
tude
 
  Term   Calendar
Spring
315° Lichun 4-5 February
330° Yushui 18-19 February
345° Jingzhe 5-6 March
Chunfen 20-21 March
15° Qingming 4-5 April
30° Guyu 20-21 April
Summer
45° Lixia 5-6 May
60° Xiaoman 21-22 May
75° Mangzhong 5-6 June
90° Xiazhi 21-22 June
105° Xiaoshu 7-8 July
120° Dashu 22-23 July
Autumn
135° Liqiu 7-8 August
150° Chushu 23-24 August
165° Bailu 7-8 September
180° Qiufen 23-24 September
195° Hanlu 8-9 October
210° Shuangjiang 23-24 October
Winter
225° Lidong 7-8 November
240° Xiaoxue 22-23 November
255° Daxue 7-8 December
270° Dongzhi 21-22 December
285° Xiaohan 5-6 January
300° Dahan 20-21 January

The traditional East Asian calendars divide a year into 24 solar terms (節氣). Lìchūn (pīnyīn) or Risshun (rōmaji) (Chinese and Japanese: 立春; Korean: 입춘; Vietnamese: Lập xuân; literally: "start of spring") is the 1st solar term. It begins when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 315° and ends when it reaches the longitude of 330°. It more often refers in particular to the day when the Sun is exactly at the celestial longitude of 315°. In the Gregorian calendar, it usually begins around February 4 and ends around February 18 (February 19 East Asia time). It's also the beginning of a Sexagenary cycle.

Pentads[edit]

Date and Time (UTC)
year begin end
辛巳 2001-02-03 18:28 2001-02-18 14:27
壬午 2002-02-04 00:24 2002-02-18 20:13
癸未 2003-02-04 06:05 2003-02-19 02:00
甲申 2004-02-04 11:56 2004-02-19 07:50
乙酉 2005-02-03 17:43 2005-02-18 13:31
丙戌 2006-02-03 23:27 2006-02-18 19:25
丁亥 2007-02-04 05:18 2007-02-19 01:08
戊子 2008-02-04 11:00 2008-02-19 06:49
己丑 2009-02-03 16:49 2009-02-18 12:46
庚寅 2010-02-03 22:47 2010-02-18 18:35
辛卯 2011-02-04 04:32 2011-02-19 00:25
壬辰 2012-02-04 10:22 2012-02-19 06:17
癸巳 2013-02-03 16:13 2013-02-18 12:01
甲午 2014-02-03 22:03 2014-02-18 17:59

Source: JPL Horizons On-Line Ephemeris System

Each solar term can be divided into 3 pentads (候). They are: first pentad (初候), second pentad (次候) and last pentad (末候). Pentads in Lichun include:

China
  • First pentad: Dōng Fēng Jiě Dòng (traditional Chinese: 東風解凍; simplified Chinese: 东风解冻; literally: "east wind thaw")
    Yuè Lìng Qī Shí Èr Hòu Jí Jiě (月令七十二候集解) explains the name of this pentad:

    It is not called the 'winter ice meets the spring wind and melts in the spring wind' thaw, but the 'east wind' thaw, because Lü Shi Chun Qiu said that the east is associated with wood, and wood generates fire,[1] so the air is warm and causes ice to thaw. (凍結于冬遇春風而解散不曰春而曰東者呂氏春秋曰東方屬木木火母也然氣溫故解凍)

Japan
  • First pentad: 東風解凍
  • Second pentad: 黄鶯睍睆
  • Last pentad: 魚上氷

Customs[edit]

Lichun traditionally signifies the beginning of spring in East Asian cultures. Chinese New Year is celebrated around this time. Farmers often celebrate the beginning of Lichun with special village events, worship and offerings to the gods and ceremonies for a blissful and prosperous new year. In China, people eat chūnbǐng (春餅) on this day.

In the lunisolar calendar, New Year's Day might be before or after Lichun. A year without Lichun is called 無春年 (no spring year). 無春年 is also known as 寡婦年 (widow year) in northern China or 盲年 (blind year) in southern China. Marriage is believed to be unlucky in a year without Lichun.[2]

In the Republic of China, Lichun has been Farmer's Day since 1941.[3]

Popular culture[edit]

Literature[edit]

Lichun was frequently mentioned in literature. The most famous reference is probably Du Fu's (杜甫) shi (詩), simply titled Lìchūn (立春):

春日春盤細生菜
忽憶兩京梅發時
盤出高門行白玉
菜傳纖手送青絲
巫峽寒江那對眼
杜陵遠客不勝悲
此身未知歸定處
呼兒覓紙一題詩

This poem tells us about the traditional custom of eating chūnbǐng (春餅) on this day.

See also[edit]

  • Setsubun (節分), the day before the beginning of each season, celebrated as winter changes to spring in Japan
  • Egg of Li Chun

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Preceded by
Dahan (大寒)
Solar term (節氣) Succeeded by
Yushui (雨水)