小寒是二十四节气的第二十三个节气,也是阳历年的第一个节气。此时天气渐寒,却尚未大冷,因此称此节气为小寒。今年的小寒始于1月5日。
小寒时节腊梅已开,红梅含苞待放,是仔细欣赏梅花的绝佳时期。除了欣赏梅花之美,还可以品味梅花的雅茗幽香。
小寒是腊月的节气。“腊”,含有“接”之意,故指新旧交接。腊祭是历史悠久的民间以往祭祀文化其一,古人会在腊月举办合祀众神的仪式。
“三九”是指冬至后的第三个“九天”,即冬至后的第十九天到第二十七天。俗话说:“一九二九不出手,三九四九冰上走”。三九的第一天在小寒节气期间,三九期间也是冬天最冷的一段时间。
我国北方各省入冬之后天寒地冷,冰期十分长久,动辄从十一月起,直到次年四月。冰面厚的地区大多设有冰床,供行人玩耍,也有穿冰鞋在冰面竞走的,古代称为冰戏。
进入小寒后年味渐浓,许多人会开始为即将到来的春节做预备,包括写春联、贴窗花、挂彩灯,以及赶集购买年画、鞭炮、香火等物品。
南京人常在小寒时节吃菜饭。用矮脚黄青菜与咸肉片、香肠片或是板鸭丁,再剁上生姜粒与糯米一起煮,非常鲜香味美。而矮脚黄、香肠、板鸭又都是南京的有名特产。正宗的南京菜饭甚至与腊八粥相比也毫不逊色。
The traditional Chinese lunar calendar divides the year into 24 solar terms. Minor cold, the 23rd solar term, is the first solar term in 2018. Minor cold begins on Jan 5 this year.
Minor cold is a season to enjoy plum flowers, as wintersweet are in full bloom and buds of plum flowers are ready to blossom. Aside from appreciating their beauty, one can also enjoy the delicate scent of the plum flowers.
Minor cold is a solar term in the twelfth month of the lunar calendar, or la yue. La in Chinese also means "connect", referring to the transition from the old to the new. People in ancient China often held ceremonies during minor cold to worship the gods for the upcoming year.
Minor cold is often the coldest period of winter. An old saying goes, "Days of Sanjiu are the coldest." "Sanjiu" refers to the third nine-day period (19th-27th day) after winter solstice, which starts during minor cold. 
Most of North China freezes during minor cold, sometimes from November to the following April. Winter sports such as ice skating and skiing have been popular in China during this period since the ancient times.
Many would start preparing for the upcoming Chinese New Year during minor cold, such as writing Spring Festival couplets, decorating windows with paper-cut flowers, putting up lamps or purchasing fireworks.
People in Nanjing took minor cold quite seriously in the past but the tradition gradually faded. However, eating vegetable rice is still followed today. The rice is steamed with 
aijiaohuang (a kind of green vegetable), sausages and salted duck, which all are local specialties.
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