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Minor Snow: Chinese Culture and traditions during 小雪 (Xiǎoxuě)

It’s morning. However, instead of the usually tolerable coldness, the shivering cold took over. Crystals start to form around low-hanging tree branches. Even the residual morning dew starts to freeze. Harsh cold wind blows fill the town, compelling people to wear thicker clothes. Once again, the city is white. 小雪 (Xiǎoxuě) starts.

小雪 (Xiǎoxuě) or Minor Snow is the 20th among 24 solar terms. During this time, the sun reaches the 240-degree celestial longitude. Minor Snow begins on November 22 and ends on December 6. It is common during 小雪 (Xiǎoxuě) for the temperature to rapidly drop. In northern China, the temperature often reaches beyond 0 degrees Celsius. 

And also, Minor Snow has been a part of the Chinese tradition since time immemorial. Texts and records keep records of Minor Snow. An ancient Chinese botany book described Minor Snow as ” the weather is cold and it is going to snow, while the earth is not frozen enough and the snow is light.” 

With 小雪 (Xiǎoxuě) just around the corner, we will learn relevant traditional Chinese culture and customs. In addition, we can also learn and master exciting whimsically wise proverbs about Minor Snow. 

Knowledge points

小 (xiǎo) Third tone, small, tiny, insignificant

雪 (xuě) Third tone, snow

小雪 (xiǎoxuě) Slight Snow (20th solar term), small snow

Wearing hats and scarves 戴帽子与围围 (Dài màozi yǔ wéi wéijīn)

At the beginning of Minow Snow, cold wind blows heavily originate from the northeast. The wind becomes heavier and significantly chiller. With this, fever and other sicknesses that come from coldness become prevalent. As a response, people wear hats and scarves to keep their heads warm. They believe that leaving your head exposed will open the entryway of the body. They have a saying that goes, “the head is the place where all passages of the body gather.”

Drinking soup  (hētāng) 

Another custom the people do during Minor Snow is drinking hot soup. After all, drinking hot soups is one of the best ways to relax during a cold season. In addition, it also serves as a protection from the blistering cold of Minor Snow. People drink a wide variety of hot soups. The common ones are mainly cabbage with tofu soup, spinach with tofu soup, and mutton with radish soup. People also love to include herbs and other vegetables in their soups to make them delicious and nourishing. 

Making preserved pork and pickled vegetables腌腊肉和咸菜 (yān làròu hé xiáncài) 

After the Minor Snow, there’s a short span where the temperature sharply declines, removing moisture from the air. When that happens, it is the perfect time to make preserved meat and pickled vegetables. Food preservation has become an integral part of Minor Snow. Not only does it allow people to eat meat during the cold days, but it also serves as a preparatory ceremony for the Chinese Spring Festival. 

This practice continued for thousands of years. In the Jiangsu province, the people of Nanjing welcomed Minor Snow with pickled vegetables cooked in different creative ways.

Eating glutinous rice cake 吃糍 (chī cí bā)

Another custom that completes Minor Snow is eating glutinous rice or rice cake. In some areas of south China, people have glutinous rice cakes in the early 10th lunar month, around Minor Snow. 

Avoiding spicy food 少吃辣 (shǎo chī là) 

Minor Snow is immensely freezing. What could make that better than eating spicy food? During this time, it is custom for people to always partake in some hot and spicy food to keep warm. However, people advise against eating excessively since Chinese people think that will enhance inner heat.

To understand more and master the knowledge point. Let us delve into the POPULAR poem provided below as the end.

Jiāng xuě


Fishing in Snow

Liǔ Zōngyuán


by Liu Zongyuan

Qiān shān niǎo fēi jué, wàn jìng rén zōng miè.

千    山      鸟   飞   绝,万   径  人    踪    灭。

Gū zhōu suō lì wēng, dú diào hán jiāng xuě.

孤  舟      蓑 笠   翁,独   钓   寒     江   雪。

From hill to hill no bird in flight;

from path to path no man in sight.

A lonely fisherman afloat is fishing snow in a lonely boat.

Would you like to know more about traditional Chinese culture, please check them below:

Traditional Chinese Culture: How well do you know 立冬 (Lìdōng)?

In-depth Overview About Chinese Frost’s Descent 霜降 (Shuāngjiàng)

Take a Quiz to Know Chinese Frost’s Descent

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