The 24 solar terms is a gross name of the system that consists of 12 major solar terms and 12 minor solar terms.
- 12 major solar terms
Starting from ‘vernal equinox’, the 12 major solar terms are ‘vernal equinox’, ‘corn rain’, ‘corn forms’, ‘summer solstice’, ‘great heat’, ‘end of heat’, ‘autumnal equinox’, ‘frost’, ‘light snow’, ‘winter solstice’, ‘severe cold’ and ‘spring showers’.
- Minor solar terms
The minor solar term after ‘vernal equinox’ is ‘bright and clear’, and then in turn ‘summer commences’, ‘corn on ear’, ‘moderate heat’, ‘autumn commences’, ‘white dew’, ‘cold dew’, ‘winter commences’, ‘heavy snow’, ‘moderate cold’, ‘spring commences’ and ‘insects waken’.
At ‘vernal equinox’ and ‘autumnal equinox’, the length of daylight and the night are equal. The period of daylight is the longest at ‘summer solstice’ and the shortest at ‘winter solstice’ in northern hemisphere. These were the earliest solar terms determined in ancient time. Then it came the four solar terms ‘spring commences’, ‘summer commences’, ‘autumn commences’ and ‘winter commences’.
Other solar terms were named later according to the weather and agricultural activities prevalent at the respective times of the seasons. The ‘24 solar terms’ reflects to some extent the climate over central China in ancient time. They represent the early wisdom of Chinese people.
- Here is an overview of the 24 solar terms in Chinese agricultural calendar
Spring commences (1st solar term)
Corn rain (2nd solar term)
Insects waken (3rd solar term)
The Vernal Equinox (4th solar term)
Bright and clea (5th solar term)
Grain Rain (6th solar term)
Summer commences (7th solar term)
Corn forms (8th solar term)
Corn on ear (9th solar term)
Summer Solstice (10th solar term)
Moderate heat (11th solar term)
Great Heat (12th solar term)
Autumn commences (13th solar term)
End of Heat (14th solar term)
White Dew (15th solar term)
Autumnal equinox (16th solar term)
Cold Dew (17th solar term)
Frost (18th solar term)
Winter commences (19th solar term)
Light Snow (20th solar term)
Heavy snow (21th solar term)
Winter Solstice (22th solar term)
Moderate cold (23th solar term)
Greater Cold (24th solar term)