The Beginning of Winter – Lìdōng 立冬

In ancient China, 24 solar terms, orJiéqì, existed to guide farmers in agricultural affairs and farming activities throughout the year—each of these periods lasting approximately 15 days. The Jiéqì are based on the sun’s position in the zodiac and reflect changes in climate, agricultural production, natural phenomena and other aspects of living. This is often referred to as ‘the farmer’s calendar’.

On November 8th, we enter the period of lìdōng 立冬, also known as ‘The Beginning Of Winter’Lìdōng is the nineteenth solar term, which occurs annually around November 7th. It indicates the true beginning of winter. As the first solar term of winter, the autumn crops have been harvested and the animals have gone into hiding in preparation for hibernation. The surface of the earth is still warm and has retained some heat from the months prior. Thus the weather is not cold, and on sunny days, it feels like spring. The weather, therefore, continues to support the growth of the winter crops. However, following lìdōng the cold air will begin to come in unexpectedly, leading to strong winds, dropping temperatures, rain and snow. This should serve as a reminder to us to adapt to a change of weather and lifestyle.

With our bodies existing as a microcosm of the world surrounding us, health care should focus on following nature’s progression. As the period of lìdōng begins, we must acknowledge the continual decline of yang qi and an inevitable inward movement towards yin, home, the interior, internal reflection and the stillness of winter and the Water element.

Here we have advice on how to live in harmony with the movement of winter and the Water element. In order to remain in harmony with the four seasons and the five elements, we recommend seasonal treatments to maintain this sense of balance as we transition through the year.

“The three months of winter,
they denote securing and storing.
The water is frozen and the earth breaks open.

Do not disturb the yang [qi].
Go to rest early and rise late.
You must wait for the sun to shine.

Let the mind enter a state as if hidden, {as if shut in}
as if you had secret intentions;
as if you already had made gains.

Avoid cold and seek warmth, and
do not [allow sweat] to flow away through the skin. 
This would cause the qi to be carried away quickly.

This is correspondence with the qi of winter, and
it is the Way of nourishing storage.
Opposing it harms the kidneys.
In spring this causes limpness with receding [qi], and 
there is little to support generation.”

Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen (Chapter 2)


The 24 Solar Terms

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