Week 49 in Beijing (or Minor Cold)



This morning, I went to take my bike from the bicycle parking garage of my residence compound in Beijing and the lady who opened the door for me told “This week is week 49!”. What does “week 49” mean in China? Week 49 or Minor Cold is the twenty third solar term of the 24 traditional Chinese solar terms.

In 2016, the Minor Cold will last from Jan 6 to Jan 19. The Minor Cold means that we are now in the coldest days of the year. But not only, as Chinese sayings also use the weather situation of the Minor Cold to predict the weather for the following spring.


What you should do and what you shouldn’t be doing, listen the the 99 song!

In our previous post regarding the celebration of the Winter Solstice in China, we have already mentioned the 9 times 9 days period. This 9 x 9 or 81 days winter period has some strong traditional and cultural roots in northern of China. There is a song called “99 song”.

imagesAgriculture is important in China. Long long time ago, people realized that the weather is the most important thing: In spring, people plant the seeds in the field, in autumn, people harvest grains. But in winter, it is too cold, people cannot work, they have nothing to do. People expects the winter ends fast, but how many days the winter will last, when the spring will come?

Fortunately, our ancestors had time to listen to our Mother Earth: in the old time, when winter was there, although there was no electricity, no mobile phones, no too much entertainment, people were painting a plum tree on a white paper, with 81 petals of plum blossom on the tree. People will color one piece petal of plum blossom with pink color from the first day on (December 22 of every year) to the last day: so that, after 81 days, the plum tree is finished, all the blossom becomes pink, the spring is there! 

But at that time,  most of Chinese people did not have any education, they were not rich, couldn’t paint, so they create this “99 song” to help people to count the days in winter. The song is as below:

  • 一九二九不出手(yijiu,erjiu,buchushou)
    19, 29, hands in the pocket (it means start to be cold, you should keep your hands covered, not exposed at the air)
  • 三九四九冰上走 (sanjiu, sijiu, bingshangzou)
    39, 49, walk on the ice (the water is freezing and this period is the coldest weather in a year)
  • 五九六九河边看柳 (wujiu, liujiu, hebiankanliu)
    59, 69, see the willow by the river (it means that the weather becomes warmer, the willow beside the river start to sprout, the ice river starts to melt)
  • 七九河开 (qijiu, hekai)
    79, the river flows (the ice in the river disappears, the water in the river starts to flow again)
  • 八九雁来 (bajiu, yanlai)
    89, wild goose flies back (the wild goose flies from the South to the North)
  • 九九加一九耕牛遍地走 (jiujiujiayijiu, gengniubiandizou)
    99 plus 19, farm cattle goes everywhere (it means spring is there, the farmer start to work in the fields)


Prepare the Chinese New Year Decorations

For Chinese people, it is time to prepare things to celebrate the Chinese New Year: 

  • paper-cutting-featured-craft-tiger-shape-window-decoration_TW04024_sSpring Festival couplets (春聯, chūnlián): pair of lines of poetry that Chinese people paste around their door as Chinese New Year decoration, displaying happy and hopeful thoughts for the coming year.
  • Chinese Paper cut ( 剪纸, Jianzhi),
  • fire crackers – get ready for another couple of days with AQI reaching sky, unless the government decides not to allow fire crackers in Beijing… 
  • lanterns. 

What to eat during the Minor Cold?

You’ve probably seen pictures of the meals your Chinese friends enjoyed recently. I would not be surprised if you told me that you’ve seen on your Wechat moments the following dishes: mutton hot pot, chestnuts, baked sweet potato, beef, sesame, walnuts, almonds, raisins, trout, pepper, cinnamon, leeks, fennel and parsley… Indeed, eating food that contains yang energy should prevent cold from harming your organs, according to Chinese Medicine. But not only the food will contribute to the yang energy but also the way to cook it: boiling, stir frying and baking are recommended. 

laba porridge Minor cold

Laba Porridge

Special dishes for Minor Cold in China:

  • Beijing: The Laba porridge (made from more than 20 kinds of nuts, cereals and dried fruits) is THE porridge cooked by Beijing local people on the night of the seventh day of the twelfth lunar month. 
  • Nanjing: vegetable rice made from steamed rice cooked together with aijiaohuang (a kind of Chinese cabbage), sausage and salted duck.
  • Guangdong: in Guangdong Province, Cantonese eat glutinous rice in the morning during Minor Cold, with fried preserved pork, sausage and peanuts and mix them into the rice. 

You may also eat herbal Medicines, better to ask you Chinese friends what is recommended for you!


Keep exercising!

Another Chinese saying reminds everyone that we should keep doing sport in Beijing, even during the Minor Cold! “Get exercise in the coldest days of winter.” Chinese traditional games include hoop rolling and the cockfighting game.

  • games_to_keep_out_the_cold_in_minor_coldac6a2cc6a6fd124df378Hoop rolling or hoop trundling. With a V-shaped iron bar or wire in their hands, the children roll forward a hoop along the ground carefully keeping it balanced upright. 
    The aim of the game is to keep pushing the hoop forward as fast as possible without letting it fall.
    This game is played all over the world now, but the earliest record date from Ancient China.
  • Cockfighting game: Lifting one leg up and grasping the ankle with both hands so that it does not fall on the ground, the aim is to hobble toward each other and not to crash. 


The good news is that after the Minor cold, temperatures will raise! Spring festival is almost there!







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About Marketing

I am living in China since 2007. I am sharing my experiences for other expatriates to make their stay in Beijing more enjoyable. As I am writing this blog for SCOUT Real Estate agency, I am also computing updates about the Real Estate market in Beijing, not only on residential properties, but as well on commercial locals and offices. Hope you enjoy your reading!