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24 Solar Terms: Minor Cold
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The traditional Chinese lunar calendar divides the year into 24 solar terms. Minor cold, the 23rd solar term, is the first solar term in 2018. Minor cold begins on January 5 this year.

Minor cold is a season to enjoy plum flowers,as wintersweet are in full bloom and buds of plum flowers are ready to blossom. Aside from appreciating their beauty, one can also enjoy the delicate scent of plum flowers.

Minor cold is a solar term in the twelfth month of the lunar calendar, or la yue. La in Chinese also means "connect", referring to the transition from the old to the new. People in ancient China often held ceremonies during minor cold to worship the gods for the upcoming year.

Minor cold is often the coldest period of winter. An old saying goes, "Days of Sanjiu are the coldest." "Sanjiu" refers to the third nine-day period (19th-27th) day after winter solstice, which starts during minor cold.

Most of North China freezes during minor cold, sometimes from November to the following April. Winter sports such as ice skating and skiing have been popular in China during this period since the ancient times.

Many would start preparing for the upcoming Chinese New Year during minor cold, such as writing Spring Festival couplets, decorating windows with paper-cut flowers, putting up lamps or purchasing fireworks.

People in Nanjing took minor cold quite seriously in the past but the tradition gradually faded. However, eating vegetable rice is still followed today. The rice is steamed with aijiaohuang (a kind of green vegetable), sausages and salted duck, which all are local specialties.

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