Experts wonder, "is the ancient Chinese peasant calendar applicable to Taiwan?" Does the 24 solar terms still have the significance of the times?

Published: 2024-05-18 Author: mysheen
Last Updated: 2024/05/18, Experts wonder, "is the ancient Chinese peasant calendar applicable to Taiwan?" Does the 24 solar terms still have the significance of the times?


After "Greater Cold", "the Beginning of Spring" is just around the corner, and after the Boxer year is sent away, the Lunar New year is approaching, and then "Rain Water" and "sting" are coming, and spring will warm the earth again. For many Taiwanese who have Chinese cultural genes in their blood, this makes sense. But looking through the farmer's calendar for the year of the Ox sent by the chief, the question suddenly arises: what on earth is the 24 solar terms? Does the calendar handed down from ancient China have reference value for contemporary farmers in Taiwan? For the general public, there is already a weather forecast. Is there any relationship between solar terms and daily life?

The farmer calendar originating from the Yellow River basin is not completely applicable to Taiwan farmers, but it still has reference value. (photography / Yang Yuyun) each nation has its own calendar, 24 solar terms, common to many countries.

"before the popularity of the Gregorian calendar, all ethnic groups had their own calendars," says Chen Yung-Ming, head of the climate change group at the National Center for disaster Prevention. For example, the Chinese have 24 solar terms, Mayan culture divides a year into 18 months, and aborigines believe that there are six seasons in a year.

Japan is divided into more details. They think that there are 72 phenology in a year, an average of five or six days per week, and the solar terms are three times more than those of the Chinese. For example, in "the Beginning of Summer" from May 5 to 20, Japan is divided into three seasons: "Frog beginning to sing", "Earthworm", and "Bamboo shoot". The corresponding three seasons of "White Dew" are: the arrival of wild geese, the return of mysterious birds, and the shame of flocks of birds.

Some of these calendars have been abolished, some are still used in conjunction with the Gregorian calendar, and some even cross national boundaries and influence other cultures. For example, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia and other places all refer to the 24 solar terms of Chinese culture.

Chen Yung-Ming expressed the hope that over time, Taiwan will make a disaster prevention and cultivation calendar for every county, city and crop. (photography / Yang Yuyun) the 24 solar terms look at the "national calendar" rather than the lunar calendar

The peasant calendar, made up of 24 solar terms, is the most widely distributed printed matter in Chinese society. This term makes people easily think that it is based on the lunar calendar (lunar calendar), that is, we usually set the calendar for the first and fifteenth days of the lunar calendar according to the roundness of the moon. But it actually depends on the position of the sun.

Li Jin, a researcher at the Taipei Municipal Astronomical Science Education Center, said: "Human beings have long observed that the position of the sun has an impact on the climate, and the calendar of 24 solar terms has been gradually developed. but at least as early as the Zhou Dynasty, there were two-thirds (the Spring Equinox, the Autumn Equinox, the Summer Solstice, the Winter Solstice)." The 24 solar terms are divided according to the earth's orbit around the sun, with a circle of 360 °, divided into 0 °in spring (the sun shines directly on the equator) and 15 °in Qingming Festival.

Because it follows the national calendar, the days of solar terms seem to be fixed. For example, the Winter Solstice, who eats dumplings, basically falls on December 23 every year. Qingming Festival is certainly a festival, but it is also a solar term, so Qingming Festival is always on April 5, unlike other folk festivals in Chinese culture, such as Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival and Lantern Festival, which fall on different days of the national calendar every year.

The 24 solar terms are generally used in astronomical sense, but in fact there are errors according to the region.

From an astronomical point of view, since the 24 solar terms are determined by the position of the sun, they are of universal value regardless of region.

For example, the sun shines directly on the Tropic of Cancer is the Summer Solstice. Although the latitudes of Taiwan and the Yellow River basin are different, the days of May 21 or 22 of the two places are the longest days of the year. Latitude only determines the temperature difference (Taiwan is more vulnerable to direct sunlight than the Yellow River, so the temperature is higher). The Summer Solstice's days will not be different. From this point of view, the 24 solar terms are applicable in the Yellow River basin and certainly in Taiwan.

However, Liu Zai-Ming, Jian Jen of the Central Meteorological Bureau, points out that there is about a month's difference in the weather between the Yellow River basin and Taiwan, and if you want to act according to the 24 solar terms, it will inevitably be "late," especially after autumn and winter. For example, people are used to replenishing "the Beginning of Winter" at the beginning of winter to reserve the vitality of winter. However, according to the statistics of the Meteorological Bureau, the average temperature in Taiwan exceeded 20 ℃ at the time of the Beginning of Winter, and even surpassed the record of 30 ℃, so it was obviously inappropriate to eat sesame oil chicken.

However, according to the trend, the solar terms still keep pace with the annual temperature cycle. For example, the two cold waves in January this year appeared between "Lesser Cold" and "Greater Cold".

The formulation of solar terms has a political effect to remind farmers to pursue good fortune and avoid evil.

Lin Hejun's doctoral thesis discusses the meaning of the 24 solar terms in the peasant calendar. He says that the 24 solar terms are a yardstick for calculating days, or a scale of the solar calendar, each of which has its own name. Apart from marking two-thirds of astronomical factors, it also borrows the names of the four seasons, namely the Beginning of Spring, the Beginning of Summer, the Beginning of Autumn and the Beginning of Winter.

After these eight astronomical points are fixed, 14 of the remaining 16 solar scales are related to meteorology, such as Greater Cold, Grain Rain, White Dew, Frosts Descent, and the other two are related to phenology (Lesser Fullness of Grain, Grain in Beard).

"in ancient times, only people with political power could issue an annual almanac, which enabled the state to rule its people more accurately, to implement policies according to time, and farmers to cultivate according to time." Lin Hejun said that the contents of the solar terms remind the stages of farming and weather phenomena, in addition to timely farming, can also avoid adverse agricultural solar terms.

Lin Hejun said that the names of solar terms are full of "reminders" and are enhanced by weak ones: Lesser Snow, heavy Snow; Lesser Heat, Greater Heat; White Dew, Cold Dew, and Frosts Descent. He believes that the farmers' experience is not so much a code of conduct as a "treasure book for disaster prevention." the weather regularity observed by our ancestors was skillfully designed in the name of solar terms to remind farmers to pursue good fortune and avoid evil.