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The only time I have traveled to Beijing a taxi driver told me I had come at the worst and hottest time of year. He explained to me that the year was divided up in periods of roughly 16 days and the period I had come at was the hottest (a fact I wasn't going to disagree with considering the temperature outside the taxi).

What are the Chinese names and a brief description of these periods?

In researching to find this answer I came across this blog post which is in English and describes 24 periods in a year but it doesn't include the Chinese characters for each of the periods.

Can someone please provide further detail to the blog post and provide the Chinese names (characters) of each of the periods.

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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted
  1. 立春 Lìchūn "Beginning of spring"
  2. 雨水 Yǔshuǐ "Rain Water"
  3. 惊蛰 Jīngzhé "Awakening of insects"
  4. 春分 Chūnfēn "Mid spring"
  5. 清明 Qīngmíng "Clear and bright"
  6. 谷雨 Gǔyǔ "Rain for the grains"
  7. 立夏 Lìxià "Beginning of summer"
  8. 小满 Xiǎomǎn "Partially filled grains"
  9. 芒种 Mángzhòng "seed sowing"
  10. 夏至 Xiàzhì "Summer Solstice"
  11. 小暑 Xiǎoshǔ "Slight Heat"
  12. 大暑 Dàshǔ "Great Heat"
  13. 立秋 Lìqiū "Beginning of autumn"
  14. 处暑 Chǔshǔ "End of heat"
  15. 白露 Báilù "White dew"
  16. 秋分 Qiūfēn "Autumn Equinox"
  17. 寒露 Hánlù "Cold dew"
  18. 霜降 Shuāngjiàng "Frost descends"
  19. 立冬 Lìdōng "Beginning of winter"
  20. 小雪 Xiǎoxuě "Slight snow"
  21. 大雪 Dàxuě "Big snow"
  22. 冬至 Dōngzhì "Winter solstice"
  23. 小寒 Xiǎohán "Slight cold"
  24. 大寒 Dàhán "Extreme cold"

What you have mentioned in your question, the hottest period, I think it is 大暑, end of July, the hottest time in Northern hemisphere.

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@xiaohouzi79 I don't know who added the pinyin, but The dictionary of Modern Chinese(《现代汉语词典》) gives the pinyin of 处暑 as chǔshǔ. –  fefe Jan 17 '12 at 1:18
    
@fefe :( Google - I will now edit –  xiaohouzi79 Jan 17 '12 at 1:19
1  
As far as I know, every 节气 refers to time point(or more commonly, a day), not a time period, so I think the answer to the hottest period should be from "小暑" to "大暑"(temperature increases, reaches the peak at 大暑) or from"大暑" to "立秋"(temperature decreases from the peak). Also, this is generally different from the hottest days observed by the meteorologists. 节气 is not so precise and applicable to everywhere acroos China(remember, China is large and spans several longitudes and latitudes). –  Huang Jan 17 '12 at 2:13
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This wiki article has more detail.

A solar term is any of 24 points in traditional East Asian lunisolar calendars that matches a particular astronomical event or signifies some natural phenomenon. The points are spaced 15° apart along the ecliptic and are used by lunisolar calendars to stay synchronized with the seasons. Solar terms originated in China, then spread to Korea, Vietnam, and Japan. This is exhibited by the fact that traditional Chinese, Hanja, and Kanji characters for most of the solar terms are identical.

It is called "节气"(jié qì) or "二十四节气" (èr shí sì jié qì) in Chinese. This is used to guide agriculture activities in the past. A list of them is as follows:

立春 lìchūn
雨水 yǔshuǐ
驚蟄 (惊蛰) jīngzhé
春分 chūnfēn
清明 qīngmíng
穀雨 (谷雨) gǔyǔ
立夏 lìxià
小滿 (小满) xiǎomǎn
芒種 (芒种) mángzhòng
夏至 xiàzhì
小暑 xiǎoshǔ
大暑 dàshǔ
立秋 lìqiū
處暑 (处暑) chǔshǔ
白露 báilù
秋分 qiūfēn
寒露 hánlù
霜降 shuāngjiàng
立冬 lìdōng
小雪 xiǎoxuě
大雪 dàxuě
冬至 dōngzhì
小寒 xiǎohán
大寒 dàhán
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