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立春 Li Chūn: Start of Spring

立春 Li Chūn, or Start of Spring is the first of the 24 solar terms and this year it begins on February 4th and continues through February 18th.

Ancient Chinese Observations

Archaeological research has revealed that the Ancient Chinese have been observing the movements of the sun, moon and stars for more than 4,000 years. These meticulous observations were then used to govern agriculture and various other aspects of their everyday lives, customs, and traditions.

The Ancient Chinese established 4 major solar terms, or 节气Jie Qi, as early as the Shang Dynasty (1766 – 1046 B.C.). During the Zhou Dynasty (1046 – 256 B.C.), 8 solar terms were established. The 24 solar terms as we know them now were first included in the calendar in 104 B.C. during Western Han dynasty (202 B.C. – 9 A.D.), or Taichu Calendar.

The 5th Great Invention of China

The 24 Solar Terms include:

立春 Lì Chūn, or Start of Spring
雨水 Yǔ Shuǐ, or Rain Water
惊蛰 Jīng Zhé, or Awakening of Insects
春分 Chūn Fēn, or Spring Equinox
清明 Qīng Míng, or Clear and Bright
谷雨 Gǔ Yǔ, or Grain Rain

立夏 Lì Xià, or Start of Summer
小满 Xiǎo Mǎn, or Grain Buds
芒种 Máng Zhǒng, or Grain in Ear
夏至 Xià Zhì, or Summer Solstice
小暑 Xiǎo Shǔ, or Minor Heat
大暑 Dà Shǔ, or Major Heat

立秋 Lì Qiū, or Start of Autumn
处暑 Chù Shǔ, or End of Heat
白露 Bái Lù, or White Dew
秋分 Qiū Fēn, or Autumn Equinox
寒露 Hán Lù, or Cold Dew
霜降 Shuāng Jiàng, or Frost’s Descent

立冬 Lì Dōng, or Start of Winter
小雪 Xiǎo Xuě, or Minor Snow
大雪 Dà Xuě, or Major Snow
冬至 Dōng Zhì, or Winter Solstice
小寒 Xiǎo Hán, or Minor Cold
大寒 Dà Hán, or Major Cold

In 2016 China’s “24 solar terms” were added to the UNESCO world intangible cultural heritage list. In the international meteorological field the 24 solar terms are known as “the fifth great invention of China”. Studying and understanding the 24 solar terms system and how it governs daily life has been added to primary and middle schools in China.

立春 Li Chūn: Start of Spring

“To comply with the mandates of heaven and time and act accordingly has become a way to learn from nature. Uphold harmony and cherish life which characterizes the Chinese spirit.”

-Song of Solar Terms

立春 Li Chūn, or Start of Spring is the first of the 24 solar terms and this year it begins on February 4th and continues through February 18th. It starts when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 315° and ends when it reaches the longitude of 330°. Let’s look at the meaning of Lì Chūn:

立 Lì: Begins or Commences
春 Chūn: Spring

立春 Li Chūn was originally known and celebrated as ‘Farmers’ Day’ dating back at least 2,000 years. This solar term signifies the beginning of the spring season and it is mid-way between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.

The coldest part of the winter season has now passed. The Northern hemisphere has started its gradual warming. Spring enters its realm inspiring revitalization. Yang energy begins with a slow but steady explosion of life!

立春 Li Chūn is 15 days long and consists of 3 pentads (groups of five):

1st pentad – 东风解冻 east wind thaw
2nd pentad – 蛰虫始振 hibernating insects awaken
3rd pentad – 鱼陟负冰 fish swim upward near ice

“Plowed on insects awakening, the fields will be perfect for planting by Spring Equinox.”

– Ancient Chinese Proverb

A popular activity of立春 Li Chūn is to go outside and enjoy the blossoming of plum trees. Plum blossoms represent courage in Chinese culture as they persevere through cold temperatures to demonstrate their gentle beauty.

新年好 Xīnnián Hǎo – Happy New Year & Lunar New Year Poems

新年Xīnnián, or Chinese Lunar New Year, also known as 春节 Chūnjié, or Spring Festival is celebrated during this time of year. It is a 16 day grand affair and the most important and most festive holiday of the year. In 2024 it begins on February 10th, ushering in the year of the Wood Dragon.

“If the northern wind can hear the plum flowers, spare the blooming wishes for a peaceful spring”

– a wish made on Chinese New Year’s Eve

A poem written by 孟浩然 Meng Haoran, a poet from the Tang Dynasty:

The old year passed with the handle of the Big Dipper turning toward east yesterday, and today is a new start,
Though I am not an official even in my 40’s, I still worry about farming.
Work as a farmer in the field of mulberry trees along with buffalo boy.
People divine by zodiac that it will be a bumper harvest this year.”

-孟浩然 Meng Haoran, 田 家 元 日
 New Year’s Day for the Farmer’s Family

And another written by Wang Anshi from the Song Dynasty:

The old year is blown away by firecrackers,
the spring breeze lends warmth to Tusu wine.
 While the rising sun shines over each and every household,
people replace old peach wood charms with the new.”

-by Wang Anshi 元日王安石 Chinese New Year’s Day


立春 Li Chūn: Spring Indications

The Yin phase of autumn and winter is transitioning into the Yang phase of spring and summer.  Spring is the season of growth, rebirth, and rejuvenation. It is time for strategic planning, making decisions and acting on them.

Spring corresponds with the Wood element which represents the liver, the gallbladder, tendons and eyes. The wood energy wants to rise up, push through, and get things done. It is active, fast paced and energetic. It supports creativity, vision and leadership.

The Wood element is associated with the eyes, the emotion of anger, the color green, and the sound of shouting. Likewise, the climate is wind, the season is rebirth and growth, and the taste is sour.

The priority is always to remain in balance and maintain harmony. Therefore, focus on being assertive, persistent, creative, and flexible during this expansive and fast moving phase. Sway gracefully in the wind like a healthy tree.

Energy is strong and abounding during this period. The Liver organ is responsible for the smooth flow of emotions; therefore it is highly important that we safe guard our emotional wellness!

Sleep is an essential tool for replenishment and recovery for the liver.

立春 Li Chūn: Spring According to the Ancients

“The three months of spring denote breaking open the old to create the new. Heaven and earth together generate life and the Ten Thousand things begin to flourish.
Go to bed later in the evening, but rise early. Upon waking take a walk in the courtyard, loosen the hair and relax the body, thus focusing the will on life.
Give life and do not kill. Give and do not take. Reward and do not punish. When one is harmed by cold in winter, he will suffer warm disease in spring, that when one is harmed by Wind in spring, he will suffer diarrhea of undigested foods in summer.”

–黃帝內經 Huangdi Neijing Su Wen

立春 Li Chūn In Practice

Some acupoints to consider using during this time are 太衝 Liver 3 tài chōng, and 陽陵泉 GB 34 yáng líng quán accompanied with 外關 San Jiao 5 wài guān. To start the year off right I want to introduce the mantra for the year, and that is, “harmonize, harmonize, harmonize.” With the Green Dragon being the pervasive energy this year, the Wood element will be acting over the Earth element all year.

Remember to harmonize in each treatment and your treatment results may go smoother as you become the energy soother. With this said, you can allow the transformation to take place and accept your official noble position while flourishing as a true leader in your respective communities.

Also consider using formulas like:

小柴胡湯 Xiao Chai Hu Tang
柴胡舒肝湯 Chai Hu Shu Gan Tang
逍遙湯 Xiao Yao Tang

As we welcome the first day of spring, the winds will pick up and may be rough, but as you transform, you will be tough and able to withstand the drastic moves of this powerful creature: the thrashing dragon.

As the taste buds begin to open, and your pallet becomes more discerning, enjoy good food but don’t overeat, and everything you taste will be a treat.

Maintain your childlike curiosity and allow your imagination to guide you and just like spring, everything looks fresh and new to you on a daily basis. This is how you will avoid stasis.

In the realm of Chinese food therapy consider the Chinese plum with dim sum. Variety is the key to be free. Another fruit to consider is the tangerine which aids digestion and eliminates congestion.

If you have any further questions, you can setup a 15 minute Q&A session with me here when you sign up for a Si Jin Bao PRO account.

Picture of Kamal Polite, D.O.M., A.P., C.H.E.

Kamal Polite, D.O.M., A.P., C.H.E.

Founder & Chief Herbaceutical Engineer

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