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Xiao Han (Minor Cold, 小寒) is the 23rd solar term and begins when the sun reaches the celestial longitude of 285 degrees or on one of the days from 5th to 7th January. In China, Xiao Han marks the beginning of the coldest days of each year.
Ancient Chinese people believed that days around Xiao Han were much colder than Da Han (Major Cold). The average temperature in Beijing during this period is around -5 ℃.
Eating instant-boiled mutton in winter is a common folk custom for people living in North China. When eating authentic instant-boiled mutton, Beijingers usually use charcoal to heat a copper pot, which contains water with gingers and scallions. Place the sliced mutton into the boiling water and after a few seconds, the meat is cooked. Dip them into sesame sauce with Laba garlic (vinegar-preserved garlic). The dish nowadays offers a variety of healthy ingredients to add flavours to cater to winter needs.
Here is a poem from Song Dynasty.
Snow and Plums
By Lu Meipo (960-1297 AD)
Snow and plums compete for spring with neither giving up,
Scholars drop their pen and brush and hold their comments in.
In whiteness, the plum is surely less than half,
Yet snow loses to plum a distance of fragrance.
By Catherine Mang
Read about the International Dress Up Day at The British International School of Beijing, Sanlitun, including international day costume ideas.