The traditional East Asian calendars divide a year into 24 solar term
Solar term
A solar term is any of 24 points in traditional East Asian lunisolar calendars that matches a particular astronomical event or signifies some natural phenomenon. The points are spaced 15° apart along the ecliptic and are used by lunisolar calendars to stay synchronized with the seasons. Solar terms...

s (節氣). Lìchūn (pīnyīn
Pinyin is the official system to transcribe Chinese characters into the Roman alphabet in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. It is also often used to teach Mandarin Chinese and spell Chinese names in foreign publications and used as an input method to enter Chinese characters into...

or Risshun (rōmaji
Romanization of Japanese
The romanization of Japanese is the application of the Latin alphabet to write the Japanese language. This method of writing is known as , less strictly romaji, literally "Roman letters", sometimes incorrectly transliterated as romanji or rōmanji. There are several different romanization systems...

is the 1st solar term. It begins when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 315° and ends when it reaches the longitude of 330°. It more often refers in particular to the day when the Sun is exactly at the celestial longitude of 315°. In the Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

, it usually begins around February 4 and ends around February 18 (February 19 East Asia time). It's also the beginning of a Sexagenary cycle
Sexagenary cycle
The Chinese sexagenary cycle , also known as the Stems-and-Branches , is a cycle of sixty terms used for recording days or years. It appears, as a means of recording days, in the first Chinese written texts, the Shang dynasty oracle bones from the late second millennium BC. Its use to record years...



Each solar term can be divided into 3 pentad
The pentad was a Pythagorean term for the quantity of five.-See also:*Related greek numerical terms**Monad **Dyad **Triad **Tetrad **Decad *Other...

s (候). They are: first pentad (初候), second pentad (次候) and last pentad (末候). Pentads in Lichun include:

  • First pentad: Dōng Fēng Jiě Dòng
    Yuè Lìng Qī Shí Èr Hòu Jí Jiě (月令七十二候集解) explains the name of this pentad:
    It is not called the 'winter ice meets the spring wind and melts in the spring wind' thaw, but the 'east wind' thaw, because Lü Shi Chun Qiu
    Lüshi Chunqiu
    The Lüshi Chunqiu is an encyclopedic Chinese classic text compiled around 239 BCE under the patronage of the Qin Dynasty Chancellor Lü Buwei...

    said that the east is associated with wood, and wood generates fire, so the air is warm and causes ice to thaw. (凍結于冬遇春風而解散不曰春而曰東者呂氏春秋曰東方屬木木火母也然氣溫故解凍)

  • Second pentad
  • Last pentad

  • First pentad: 東風解凍
  • Second pentad: 黄鶯睍睆
  • Last pentad: 魚上氷


Lichun traditionally signifies the beginning of spring in East Asian cultures. Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year – often called Chinese Lunar New Year although it actually is lunisolar – is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. It is an all East and South-East-Asia celebration...

 is celebrated around this time. Farmers often celebrate the beginning of Lichun with special village events, worship and offerings to the gods and ceremonies for a blissful and prosperous new year. In China, people eat chūnbǐng (春餅) on this day.

In the lunisolar calendar, New Year's Day might be before or after Lichun. A year without Lichun is called 無春年 (no spring year). 無春年 is also known as 寡婦年 (widow year) in northern China or 盲年 (blind year) in southern China. Marriage is believed to be unluck
Luck or fortuity is good fortune which occurs beyond one's control, without regard to one's will, intention, or desired result. There are at least two senses people usually mean when they use the term, the prescriptive sense and the descriptive sense...

y in a year without Lichun.

In the Republic of China, Lichun has been Farmer's Day since 1941.


Lichun was frequently mentioned in literature. The most famous reference is probably Du Fu
Du Fu
Du Fu was a prominent Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty.Along with Li Bai , he is frequently called the greatest of the Chinese poets. His greatest ambition was to serve his country as a successful civil servant, but he proved unable to make the necessary accommodations...

's (杜甫) shi
Shi (poetry)
Shi is the Chinese word for "poetry" or "poem", anciently associated with Chinese poetry. In modern times, shi can and has been used as an umbrella term to mean poetry in any form or language, whether or not Chinese; but, it may imply or be used to refer certain classical forms of poetry, for...

(詩), simply titled Lìchūn (立春):

This poem tells us about the traditional custom of eating chūnbǐng (春餅) on this day.

See also

  • Setsubun
    is the day before the beginning of spring in Japan. The name literally means "seasonal division", but usually the term refers to the spring Setsubun, properly called Risshun celebrated yearly on February 3 as part of the...

     (節分), the day before the beginning of each season, celebrated as winter changes to spring in Japan
  • Egg of Li Chun
    Egg of Li Chun
    The terms Li Chun egg balancing or egg of Li Chun refers to a Chinese folk belief that it is much easier to balance an egg on a smooth surface during Li Chun , than at any other time of the year...

Further reading

  • Yuè Lìng Qī Shí Èr Hòu Jí Jiě (月令七十二候集解) by Wu Cheng
    Wu Cheng
    Wú Chéng , zì Yòuqīng , also zì Bóqīng , hào Yīwúshānrén , also known as "草廬先生", was a scholar, educator, poet in Yuan Dynasty....

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