Lìchūn

Nicholas Quirke was finding a multitude of ways to immerse himself in the culture of the country he was currently residing and on 3 February 2021 he experienced another notable celebration. It was purely coincidental that Lichun had fallen this year during the New Year pursuits though it was traditional to mark the 1st term of the East Asian lunisolar calendars which, divide a year into 24 solar terms. Lìchūn, begins when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 315° and ends when it reaches the longitude of 330°. In the Gregorian calendar it usually begins around February 4 and ends around February 18. Nicholas was interested to learn that each solar term can be divided into 3 pentads. In China Lìchūn starts with  Dōng Fēng Jiě Dòng  translated as ‘east wind thaw’ or ‘winter ice meets the spring wind and melts’, because the air is warm and causes ice to thaw. He wondered if he would still be around for both the second Pentad, zhé chóng shǐ zhèn; “hibernating insects awaken” and for the last,  yú shàng bīng; “fish swim upward near’. Of course it was simply that Lìchūn signifies the beginning of spring and celebrating the beginning of Lichun with events, worship and offerings to the Taoist and Buddhist gods and ceremonies for a blissful and prosperous new year, particularly as it is also ‘’Farmers Day’ in China was common. Naturally as it is a celebration there is an associated food here in China, and one would not be easily forgiven for not recognising that on this day people eat chūnbǐng, Spring pancake, a food unique to the northern regions has been eaten by civilians since the Jin Dynasty (266) and consists of wrapping the small (eggless) pancake around fresh vegetables and also meat. As tastes developed these then became fried and are served throughout the world as Spring Rolls. The sense of Spring and new beginnings was on his mind and he finally seized the moment and started to utilise the technology to help him keep fit with the Apple Fitness strength programme. Infinitely more slender than he had been when he had arrived in 2020 it was a much easier task to bear. And with the new fitness beginning and his lunch of clear asparagus soup and Spring Rolls it was no surprise when as he set out for Beijing Fun mall in the afternoon the air, despite the wind, was really warmer. The season had arrived and the air was doing all it could to thaw the ice. There was no reason for his escape from the apartment other than to get some air, additional exercise on a bike and a good cup of tea. As always sights on the routes there and back captured his attention and he stopped to record the thrilling buildings and perspectives presented to him. Ever since he had been in Beijing he had intended to cycle a route and record the whole journey in time lapse and finally as he traversed a narrow Hutong he attempted to record the full experience with the intention of making a longer recording if it was a success. If, with the advent of Spring he had expected a buoyant and less intense movie experience than the previous night he was mistaken and the gripping Spanish, deep winter thriller ‘Below Zero’ was the temperatures and chill he was looking forward to putting behind him. The excitement of the film did not hamper his need for sleep which when it arrived took him deeply into the night.

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