This morning as I left for work, walking along the road usually taken, a bright sound greeted me as I walked through the compound where I live. Sweet bird songs brightened the air. On the branch above me, a happiness bird landed. 喜鹊 xique, – in English we call them magpies – represents happiness in Chinese culture, and the first character in this birds name is 喜xi – happiness or ‘to like’.
Why were all the birds out this morning? After a long and drab winter, it was a joy to hear so many cheerful birdsongs. Today is，惊蛰j ingzhe, which means the insects awake, and it is the third of the 24 two-week solar terms which punctuate the luni-solar calendar.
Traditionally, thunder from spring rains was thought to awaken the insects. The date signifies that the weather is likely to get warmer ( it has, thankfully) and its a good time for farmers to plant the seeds, like the one in East Jiangsu province in the photo above.
Apparently the fish wake up too, so it’s a good time for fishing. Fish swim from deep to shallow water in search for food at this time of year, mate and spawn.
As people’s throats get sore from the warmer and dry weather, Jingzhe is a good time to eat pears. The juicy fruit is beneficial for sore throats, according to traditional Chinese medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine advises that this is a good time to nourish yang energy, and it’s important to keep warm. This site gives some acupuncture points useful for this solar term.
So along with the farmers, who all know that Jingzhe, March 6th, is a good day for commencing ploughing, apparently the birds knew something I did not know this morning.
The birds knew that the insects were waking up, and they might find a tasty morsel or two. No wonder they were singing!