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Major Cold, the prelude to Spring Festival

(People's Daily Online)    14:27, January 19, 2019

Major cold, or Dahan in Pinyin, starting around Jan. 20, is the last of the 24 Solar Terms according to the Chinese lunar calendar.

Literally speaking, Major Cold signifies the coldest time of the year. However, according to meteorological statistics, temperatures during Minor Cold are often lower than that of Major Cold, especially in the Southern part of China.


Eight-treasure rice pudding is a traditional festival food in Major Cold. It is famous all over the country, especially in regions south of the Yangtze River.

Eight-treasure rice pudding varies across different areas of China, but most are made from a combination of sticky rice and another eight ingredients such as lotus seeds, red dates and jackfruit, which symbolize good fortune in the coming lunar year.

Meanwhile, eating eight-treasure rice pudding on cold days can strengthen the spleen and nourish blood. It is especially beneficial for people with a weak or tired body.

Cold dispelling cake, or Xiaohangao in Chinese Pinyin, is a type of New Year sticky rice cake, which has higher sugar levels than regular rice, so warms up the body.

People also eat rice cakes during Major Cold for good fortune, as its pronunciation in Chinese sounds similar to “higher in the next year.”

People enjoy chicken soup during the Major Cold period. Chicken soup can help prevent colds and bronchitis.

Folk Customs

During Major Cold, businessmen often organize a banquet, where sliced cold chicken is an essential dish. This tradition is prevalent in rural areas in the southern part of Fujian Province. It's said that whomever the chicken head is facing will likely be dismissed in the upcoming year.

Therefore, some bosses choose to point the chicken's head at themselves so that employees can enjoy the meal without any concerns.

In recent years, the year-end dinner has become an annual meeting for all employees, not only to summarize the past year and look forward to the next one, but also to boost morale and hand out year-end bonuses.

There is a saying in Northern China, "Dripping water freezes during Minor and Major Cold." Folks south of the Yangtze River, however, tend to say, "Everything freezes to a ball of ice during Minor and Major Cold."

In various regions of the country, Major Cold is the perfect time for winter sports such as skiing, ice skating, and sledding.

Some strong seniors are fond of winter swimming during this period.

During Major Cold, people will prepare for New Year by making Spring Festival couplets, preparing sacrifices, swapping old things with new ones and salting meats. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Liu Ning, Bianji)

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