In Britain the blooming daffodils and snowdrops signal the onset of the change in seasons and many people cannot wait to enjoy the countryside with the flashes of yellow sweeping across the fields or walk through woods carpeted with bluebells.
Spring is a season that is much enjoyed in Paris, France, and is referred to in songs and films. And of course tourists have long enjoyed walking down the Champs Elysee as the avenue of trees come into bloom. Paris au Printemps, or Paris in the Spring, has lent itself as the title to a 1947 movie, a 1935 black and white musical comedy film directed by Lewis Milestone which itself featured a popular song of the same name by Harry Revel. In modern times too, Paris au Printemps has been used as the title of an album by the experimental rock band Public Image Ltd.
Just as Paris au Printemps can be romantic and joyful, China too is a beautiful place to be as the cherry tree blossom arrives.
Spring is welcomed across China, though being such a huge country there are vast differences from province to province. Indeed in some regions spring may last only a few days before summer arrives!
While the likes of Harbin, in the northern province of Heilongjiang , are still enjoying the annual ice festival, in the southern provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou are already seeing the cherry trees coming into bloom.
The beginning of the spring, or lìchūn (立春) in Chinese, is the first of the 24 solar terms (jiéqì 节气), or the 24 divisions of the solar year, according to the traditional Chinese calendar. It more particularly refers to the day when the Sun is exactly at the celestial longitude of 315°. In the modern Gregorian calendar, it usually begins around 4th February.
The “24 solar terms” were created thousands of years ago. Ancient Chinese people used them to guide agricultural production, as warnings of climatic conditions such as floods or drought and as markers by which to plan cultural ceremonies or family gatherings. Nowadays the “24 solar terms” are still used by farmers across China, as well as other parts of Asia.
In celebration of the coming of spring many people enjoy traditional dishes and snacks, such as zhǒuzi (肘子) braised pork joints, chūn bǐng (春饼) spring pancake , and chūnjuǎn (春卷), commonly known in the west as ‘spring rolls’. The tradition of eating such snacks or meals is called yǎochūn (咬春), which literally means "bite the spring."
Spring terms and phrases
There are a few Chinese idioms containing the character for spring (chūn, 春). Most impart meanings of beauty or other positive attributes.
Chinese people often use the old saying yī nián zhī jì zài yú chūn (一年之计在于春). Literally meaning “one year’s plan depends on spring,” the phrase is used to encourage individuals to make a good plan at the beginning of any endeavour.
Yǔ hòu chūn sǔn (雨后春笋), literally after a spring rain, bamboo shoots, is used to describe something springing up like mushrooms.
Meanwhile, “autumn moon, spring flower,” qiū yuè chūn huā (秋月春花) poetically describes the beautiful seasonal views of spring and autumn.
And to describe a person shining with happiness or beaming with smiles the Chinese might say mǎn miàn chūn fēng (满面春风, lit. full face spring wind). But should such a person’s joy be only transient, it might be said they were having yī cháng chūn mèng (一场春梦). Literally it means one having a spring dream, but equates to the English idiomatic reference of a pipe dream or something that is simply an illusion. It might also be used to refer to someone day dreaming.