惊蛰 Jīng Zhé: Awakening of Insects
“Heaven follows Dao and Dao follows nature and man is an integral part of nature” – Ancient Chinese Proverb
驚蟄 Jīng Zhé, translated as Awakening of Insects, is the 3rd solar term in the Ancient Chinese Solar calendar. It starts on March 5th and continues through March 19th of this year. 驚蟄 Jīng Zhé begins when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 345° and ends when it reaches the longitude of 360°.
Let’s look at the meaning of Jīng Zhé:
驚 Jīng: to startle
蟄Zhé: hibernating insects
The 3 pentads of 驚蟄 Jīng Zhé:
1st pentad – 桃始華 peach trees begin to blossom
2nd pentad – 倉庚鳴 orioles sing clearly
3rd pentad – 鷹化為鳩 eagles are transformed into doves
The Weather during 驚蟄 Jīng Zhé: Awakening of Insects
“I think the ancient Chinese had rich inner lives and were very sensitive. They were able to discover nature’s subtle changes and its rules. Man and nature were one and the same.”
– Ma Guanhong of Changting.
With the first thunder of the year the Chinese welcome the 3rd solar term 驚蟄 Jīng Zhé. The weather is now warmer and the spring thunder has awoken hibernating insects from winter’s sleep. Flora and fauna are awakening.
“If the spring thunder occurs before Awakening of Insects, cloudy and chilly weather will persist for 49 days, and the weather of the entire year will shift.”
– Ancient Chinese Proverb
Spring is considered the most precious time of the year for agriculture. Farmers have already prepared the soil, giving crops the best possible environment and more nutrition.
“Spring thunderstorms on the day of the Awakening of Insects bring heavy crops.”
– Ancient Chinese Proverb
The Insects & Land
Farmers are hard at work by now and the farming season is in full swing. During Awakening of Insects the priority in many parts of China is to protect plant life from pests and the potential harm they can do. With insects waking, it is time to protect crops and livestock from diseases. Stir fried soy beans symbolize jumping pests and fuzzy mice. Eating this dish on the day of 驚蟄 Jīng Zhé, or Awakening of Insects symbolizes clearing the fields of all pests and wishing for a fruitful year.
“For half a year I’ve eaten rice in a white-robed person’s house
On an old tree, plums blossom amid snow and frost
Exciting insects, a thunderbolt crashes and roars
Spring colors of the emperor’s country, red peach blossoms.”
-By poet Dogen Zenji (13th century)
If bamboo shoots appear during the 2nd solar term of 雨水Yǔ Shuǐ, or Rain Water, bamboo’s full growth falls during 驚蟄 Jīng Zhé. Bamboo has earned the title of the “fastest growing woody plant on earth!” because from sprouting to full growth it usually takes bamboo trees only 45 days to reach maturity.
Peach trees also begin to bloom during Awakening of Insects and so it is time to go outside and feast with your eyes.
“Peaches and plums do not have to talk, yet the world beats a path to them.”
– Records of the Grand Historian
A Note from Jiao Shi
Focus on freshly grown and harvested seasonal foods during this time. We have provided a preliminary list that you may find in our 立春 Li Chūn article.
May you continue to balance and harmonize yourself as we transition into 驚蟄 Jīng Zhé. Stay active!
Looking for more information on the 24 Solar Terms? Try these resources below, and enjoy!