Li Chun (立春) and Yuanxiao Festival (元宵节)
Li Chun (立春) is the first solar term of the lunar calendar and signifies the beginning of the spring season in China. Yuanxiao festival (元宵节) marks the first full moon of the lunar new year, immediately following Li Chun.
As for me, I don’t follow the lunar calendar but it is always interesting to understand it better as it provides more context for understanding Chinese culture.
During Yuanxiao Festival I ate sweet dumplings made from glutinous rice flour served in boiling water with my coworkers. In the north they are called Yuanxiao (元宵), in the south, Tangyuan(汤圆).
While the weather is still fluctuating in Beijing, everyone can agree that it is getting warmer. I find myself thinking about this spring and what it will bring; my memories of all those previous Beijing springs come flooding back like a southern monsoon.
Li Chun, Yuanxiao Festival, and all those delicious glutinous rice balls have inspired me to make a list of five different points to outline why I am excited for this spring in Beijing.
5 Reasons I’m Excited for Spring in Beijing
- Wearing spring jackets
I can finally begin to wear lighter weight spring jackets and skimp down on my cold gear accessories. That’s great in Beijing because I don’t have a car and I often take the subway to move about the city. Walking through the subway with a winter jacket is bulky and make me feel like a marshmallow man. Furthermore, it isn’t especially great to use my office chair as a coat hanger.
- Flowers and grass
Flowers will bloom and the grass will become greener. Last spring I attended a rigorous Chinese language program. I remember every morning as I walked into class I would see more and more lilacs blooming. Nothing says spring quite like the return of nature.
- Korea Vacation
This spring I will travel to Korea for a couple of weeks. During this time I will attend a Vipassana meditation retreat and a few days in Seoul as well. I am super excited to see the last of the East Asian trinity, (I have already traveled through China and Japan extensively).
- Hikes Outside of Beijing
Beijing’s outskirts are full of mountains. In the past, Chinese royalty travelled there to be alone in nature and hunt. Nowadays whether you are visiting the Great Wall or perhaps a famous temple, Beijing’s countryside is ideal in the fall or spring. I am very excited to get out and explore.
- More Sunshine
I remember the first time I came to Beijing I thought everyone looked so pale and unhealthy. Well, now I am one of those pale people that I smirked at upon my initial arrival.
Now the days are getting longer and there are more opportunities to spend time outside when it’s not polluted. This is a great way to combat SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and increase my serotonin levels.
So, with the passing of Li Chun and Yuanxiao Festival we enjoy tangyuan and many other pleasant surprises. What are you excited for this spring?