What the birds know….

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.

Image courtesy of http://news.xinhuanet.com

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.

Photo from http://www.cits.net/china-travel-guide/features-and-traditions-about-awakening-of-insects.html

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.

Photo courtesy of http://www.xinhua.net

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!

xique, a Chinese magpie, the happiness bird!


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