The Frost’s Descent (Shuang Jiang) is one of the 24 solar terms and falls on October 23rd every year, when the sun reaches the celestial longitude of 210 degrees. The temperature begins to decline gradually. The Frost’s Descent is the last solar term in autumn and the transition period from autumn to winter. The temperatures in many places drop to 0℃. Water vapor in the air condenses into ice crystals or hexagonal frost flowers on the ground. The leaves fall and insects stop taking in food and prepare for hibernation. 


The Frost’s Descent was divided into three pentads in ancient times. “The first pentad: jackals making offerings of the beasts; the second pentad: the plants turning yellow and shedding leaves; and the last pentad: all insects going dormant.” During the period, jackals arrange their prey first and eat later. The leaves turn yellow and fall on the ground. The insects stay inside the cave, and droop their heads to enter a state of hibernation.




Climate Characteristics

The Frost’s Descent does not mean descent of frost from sky to ground, but it indicates that the weather is becoming colder and colder and frost is beginning to appear.

“Frost starts to occur in the period of the Frost’s Descent”, which reflects climate characteristics of the Yellow River region. First frost by definition stands for when frost first occurs in autumn. The earlier first frost occurs, the more crop damage appears. In China, the date of first frost is gradually postponed from north to south and from mountains to plains. Apart from the regions with frost all year round, the first appearance of frost is in the northern Greater Khingan Mountains at the end of August. Most areas of northeast China, Inner Mongolia and northern Xinjiang, get their first frost around September. At the beginning of October, frost occurs in Shenyan, Chengde, Yulin, Changdu and Lhasa. Then, frost is observed in Shangdong Peninsula, Zhengzhou, Xi’an and the northwest of Yunnan at the beginning of November. In the regions of 30 degrees north latitude of eastern China, Hanshui, and 2 degrees north latitude of Yunnan Province, frost starts to fall around the beginning of December, while Xiamen, Guangzhou, Baise and Simao do not have their first frost until the first ten days of January of the following year.



Health Preservation of Frosts Descent

“Moisture condenses into dew by the sharp drop of temperature, while dew turns into frost.” The Frost’s Descent heralds the gradual turn from autumn to winter, and the weather is dry with the widening temperature gap between day and night. The period of the Frost’s Descent poses a threat to lungs and stomach. Dryness is common, including symptoms such as dry skin, increased wrinkles, thirst in the mouth, a dry throat, a dry cough, even hair loss and constipation. Therefore the priority to maintain health is to nourish the yin energy, to prevent dryness, and to moisten the lungs and the stomach. Here are some tips on health preservation in the period of the Frost’s Descent.



1. Physical Exercise

The period around the Frost’s Descent is often a high-incidence season for respiratory problems including some common respiratory diseases like allergic asthma, chronic bronchitis and upper respiratory infections. Keeping warm can help prevent these diseases. To protect the respiratory system from cold air, people with a history of asthma are advised to dress properly and to use protective masks when they go outside. Furthermore, proper physical exercise is recommended to strengthen the immune system and defend the body against disease. Aerobics, performing Tai Chi, taking regular walks, jogging and climbing mountains are beneficial forms of exercise. People should reduce the chances of exposure to autumn coldness, keep legs and feet warm, avoid knee joint exposure and protect feet against cold. To prevent the feet from getting cold, women are advised to keep feet warm by avoiding loafers and thin socks and to wear shoes with high-cut uppers or boots.




2. Healthy Diet

The period of the Frost’s Descent is in late autumn, thus, TCM practitioners hold that the season is associated with metal in the five elements and the lungs. Hence, “Ping Bu” (plain reinforcement) featuring a mild adjustment is a principle for health maintenance during the period. The reinforcing foods include pear, apple, olive, ginkgo, onion and leaf mustard, etc. These foods are effective to promote production of body fluid, nourish dryness, clear away heat, eliminate phlegm, relieve cough and asthma, and reinforce the kidney and lungs. To prevent lung diseases, people are recommended to eat less food with cool or cold energy, such as, salt-water fish, prawn and various cold beverages.


After the period of the Frost’s Descent, it is a good time to start reinforcing therapies. As the saying goes, “nourishing your body during days of the Frost’s Descent is better than doing that during winter.” The therapies are aimed to keep warm, moisten dryness, strengthen the spleen and nourish the stomach, therefore, pear, apple, olive, ginkgo, onion and potherb mustard are highly recommended. People are suggested to reduce the consumption of cold and hard food, to quit food with strong stimulation, to avoid overeating and to keep the stomach warm.  “Eat flowers in spring and fruits in autumn.” It is advisable to eat foods such as sweet potato, taro, Chinese yam, lotus root and water chestnut during the period. In addition, lily bulb, honey, jujube, sesame and walnut are also good choices to maintain health.





Eating Persimmons

A tradition in Beijing is to eat persimmons after the period of the Frost’s Descent. It is said that the persimmons after frost do not taste puckery. The plump and smooth-skinned persimmon is in a fabulously gorgeous shape with attractively jubilant color, which is a reminiscent of the auspicious speech, such as, “everything goes safe and sound”, or “everything comes off satisfactorily”. Therefore, it is always regarded as the auspicious fruit by people in Beijing.



Eating Duck Meat

It is a custom to take the reinforcing therapy on the first day of the Frost’s Descent in southern Fujian and Taiwan, which is called “to stick autumn fat” by people of the North. There is a saying in southern Fujian, which goes, “even nourishing all year round is not as good as nourishing the body on the first day of the Frost’s Descent”. The saying fully embodies that this solar term is highly valued by local people. Therefore, the duck meat sells so well in these areas in the period of the Frost’s Descent, and it may even be out of stock or in short supply.



    Appreciating Chrysanthemums

    As the ancient saying goes, “after frost, chrysanthemums began to put forth their blossoms.” Therefore, climbing mountains and appreciating chrysanthemums are social graces of this period. This is recorded in All Writings of the Qi Dynasty Continued (Xu Qi Xie Ji) by Wu Jun who lived in the Southern Dynasty of Liang. “Hills and mountains are flush with this flower during the period of the Frost’s Descent”, thus ancient people regard the chrysanthemum as “the flower with perfect timing”, which becomes the symbol of vitality. The period of the Frost’s Descent is the time when chrysanthemum flowers begin to blossom. Many areas in China develop a popular practice of appreciating chrysanthemum flowers and indulging themselves with chrysanthemum wine to demonstrate the love and respect for the flower.



    Sending away Taro Ghost

    There is a tradition in Gaoming, Guangdong Province, that people should “send away taro ghost” before the period of the Frost’s Descent. Local children build a tower by tiles, and burn firewood in it. Then they destroy the tower to bake taro after the tiles turn red by burning. This is called “breaking taro pot”. After all these, they throw the tiles away, which is called “sending away taro ghost”. This is aimed to ward off the evil spirits and display the simple auspicious concept of local people.



    Climbing Mountains

    The Frost's Descent is the fifth solar term in autumn. During the period, it is customary to climb mountains and look far into the distance in northern China. In autumn forests and on mountaintops, the air is fresh and there are less floating particles and pollutants. Moreover, mountain-climbing helps regulate the blood circulation and improve the lung capacity. Meanwhile, in the period of Frost’s Descent, the high sunlit clouds drift across a clear blue sky. The maple leaves reach the peak with dazzling colors. From the top of the mountain, people look far into the distance and enjoy the refreshing sight with a relaxed mind.