The 24 Solar Terms (二十四节气 èrshísì jiéqì) is a calendar of twenty-four equal periods, created by farmers in ancient China to guide agricultural affairs and farming activities. Based on the position of the sun in the sky, the solar terms reflect changes in climate, natural phenomena and agricultural production. The 24 Solar Terms have a great impact on modern times as well, by means of cuisine, fashion, sports, medication, housing, travel and other aspects of daily life. The solar terms start with the Beginning of Spring (立春 lìchūn) period and ends with the Greater Cold (大寒 dàhán) period. In 2016, the 24 Solar Terms was listed by UNESCO as a human intangible cultural heritage.
Seasons of China (四季中国) is a TV 24-episode documentary series that examine the impact of 24 Solar Terms on contemporary China. Created by Xinhua News Agency CNC, its crew travelled for two years through twenty-four provinces and municipalities across China – from the southern city of Sanya to the northern village Muohe; from the heat of Chongqing to freezing Harbin – and documented how the solar terms heritage affect the lives of millions, and the way they are manifested in different places. With 1500 hours of high-definition shooting materials, combining elements of traditional animations and original music, Seasons of China is a unique comprehensive experience of TV documentaries.
Episode 9: “Grain in Ear” (芒种mángzhǒng)– the ninth solar term. It begins when the sun reaches the celestial longitude of 75° and ends when it reaches the longitude of 90°. In the Gregorian calendar, the Mangzhong begins around June 5 and ends around June 21. During this period, farmers are busy harvesting barley and wheat and sowing summer seeds.
Episode 10: Summer Solstice (夏至, Xiàzhì) is the 10th solar term of the year. It begins on June 21 and ends on July 5. During this period, daylight lasts the longest for the whole year in the northern hemisphere, and after this day, daylight hours get shorter while temperatures become higher.A famous old saying in Shandong province goes: “eat dumplings on the Winter Solstice and eat noodles on Summer Solstice.” In fact, many people around China still eat chilled noodles in this period.
Episode 11: Minor Heat (小暑, xiǎo shǔ) is the 11th solar term of the year. It begins on July 7 and ends on July 22. This term signifies the beginning of the hottest period, but the extreme hot point has yet to arrive. In Minor Heat, people around China enjoy eating dumplings as well as melons, and watch the lotus flowers, which are then in full bloom.