春分 Chūn Fēn: Spring Equinox
春分 Chūn Fēn, translated as Spring Equinox, is the 4th solar term in the Ancient Chinese solar calendar. This year it starts on March 20th and continues through April 3rd. It begins when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 0° and ends when it reaches the longitude of 15°.
During the first day of 春分 Chūn Fēn the Sun is positioned exactly above the Earth’s equator. Both hemispheres receive the Sun’s rays equally during this time, making night and day the same length.
Let’s look at the meaning of Chūn Fēn:
春 Chūn: joyful, spring time
分Fēn: to divide, to distribute
Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere means rising outside temperatures and increasing rainfall.
The whole year’s work depends on a good start in spring.
– Ancient Chinese proverb
The 3 pentads of 春分 Chūn Fēn:
1st pentad – 玄鳥至 dark birds [swallows] arrive
2nd pentad – 雷乃發聲 thunder cracks
3rd pentad –始電 lightning occurs
Rapeseed, plum trees, cherry, peach, apricot and pear trees are all in bloom and willow trees are turning green.
I find the face of the vernal wind in an easy way, myriads of reds and violets reveal only spring
– Ancient Chinese proverb
春分 Chūn Fēn & Chinese Herbology
Wild medicinal herbs are also picked in the mountains during 春分 Chūn Fēn. Many are at their peak potency during this time of year and are ready for harvesting. They spend the entire winter season conserving energy and maturing, much like hibernating animals. As such this solar term is often associated with Chinese medicine.
The medicinal properties of herbs vary in accordance with the season and solar term in which they are harvested, the location in which they are grown, and various other factors such as temperature, rain fall, etc. In the Chinese culture it remains important to be in tune with nature and the seasons.
There are at least 1,000 medicinal herbs that grow in the mountains and hills of Anren, Hunan Province, China. It is known as the capital of medicine. Each year the small town of Anren hosts a legendary herbal fair at the Ganfenshe Market. Nearly 200,000 people from far and wide gather to trade herbal medicine and celebrate its significance in their everyday lives. Both the tradition and market date back to the Song Dynasty (960–1279).
春分 Chūn Fēn Traditions
Traditionally kites are flown during 春分 Chūn Fēn in China. People write wishes and prayers for healing and well being on them. It is also customary to feast on seasonal freshly harvested fruits and vegetables during the 4th solar term of the Spring Equinox.
The ancient Chinese medical classic Huangdi Neijing (The Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor) suggests that people eat seasonal foods in order to preserve health.
“Know the origin or source of your food.”
May you continue to balance and harmonize yourself as we transition into春分 Chūn Fēn. Enjoy the journey!