The Nines of Winter: Nine sets of nine days until spring arrives

In China they talk about winter coming in nine sets of nine days beginning with the winter solstice.  This poem describing the change in weather sounds really nice when spoken aloud in Chinese. I wish this page could talk!

一九二九 不出手
1st nine, 2nd nine, don’t take hands out of your pockets;

三九四九 冰上走
3rd nine, 4th nine, walking on ice;

五九六九 沿河看柳
5th nine, 6th nine, at the river’s edge we look at willows;

七九河开 八九雁来
7th nine, river’s open; 8th nine, swallows return;

九九加一九 耕牛遍地走
9th nine plus nine, plow oxen are everywhere in the fields.

Just for fun… the Mongolian Version
This is so lovely to think about… In colder places, like Mongolia, they have a different version!  Here it is:

First nine – shimijn arkhi (mild alcoholic beverage made of milk) freezes

Second nine – arkhi (vodka) freezes (second distillation, also sometimes, they say Russian vodka freezes)

Third nine – tail of three-year-old yak freezes

Fourth – horns of four-year-old yak freeze

Fifth nine – boiled rice does not congeal any more

Sixth nine – roads blacken (ie, snow melting on blacktop)

Seventh nine – hilltops blacken (snow melting on the lower hills)

Eighth nine – ground becomes damp (snow melting on grass)

Ninth nine – warm days set in

Perhaps it would be fun to make your own version of this poem for your own surroundings?

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