Light Snow (Xiaoxue), falls on November 22 this year on the Gregorian calendar. Light Snow indicates that it is going to snow, but only a “light” amount. During this period, the weather is dry and cold. Winter is just setting in in the northern part of south China; while in the north, as a result of cold air masses, the first snowfall is expected, which is conducive to agricultural activities.
Due to the strong cold air masses, temperatures in most parts of northern China fall below zero degree centigrade. Snow is precious during this time as the climate is dry. When snow does fall, many residents go outside to build snowmen or have snowball fights.
This is also the perfect time of the year to appreciate daffodils, which are also called “elegant garlic” or “heavenly onions” in China, as their bulbs resemble garlic and onions. They are easy to grow; normally, the bulbs are placed in clear water in autumn and with proper sunshine and temperature, they will be ready to bloom in winter.
As it’s getting colder, orchard farmers usually wind straw ropes around the trunks of fruit trees to protect them from damage caused by the cold. For trees like aspens and willows about one meter is usually whitewashed from the base of their trunks upward. This is done for two reasons. First, a thin coat of whitewash can help kill bacteria and pests that live on trees which are harmful to its roots and branches. Second, by doing so, 40 to 70 percent of direct sunlight will be reflected off by the whitewash instead of being absorbed by brown tree trunks, so reducing the trunks’ temperature difference by day and night.
Winter is the time for farmers to finally have a rest from their grueling work over the past nine months. During this season, hibernating animals have already hidden in caves or burrows, and cereals and most vegetables have been harvested and stored in warehouses. In almost every household in rural China, people make pickles and sausages to eat in the upcoming cold winter days as they can be stored for a long time without spoiling. Although winter in China can be cold, and sometimes, especially up north, freezing, the crisp and cold air is a refreshing break from the summer heat.