Soseol (Kor. 소설, Chin. 小雪, lit. Little Snow) is the twentieth of the twenty-four solar terms; it generally occurs on November twenty-second or twenty-third on the Gregorian calendar when the sun is positioned at an ecliptic longitude of 240°. In the lunar calendar, Soseol occurs sometime during the tenth month.
As the name of this solar term suggests, the first snow of winter is supposed to be seen around this time with the average temperature falling below 5°C. There is still some warm sunlight on Soseol, the phenomenon reflected in the term’s other name, Sochun (Kor. 소춘, Chin. 小春, lit. Little Spring). The period is characterized generally by abrupt changes in temperature as attested by the old saying: “The light pants become quilted pants a fortnight later.”
In traditional society, Soseol was not a seasonal holiday and was perceived simply as a day signaling the beginning of winter preparations. These preparations included stocking up on kimchi and preparing fields for the upcoming frosts. In popular belief, a chilly Soseol suggested great barley yields; this belief gave rise to the proverb, “What would people not give to have a cold Soseol?” Blustery weather with sudden drops in temperature led seafarers to be reluctant to sail during this period. The cold spell around Soseol is known as Sondol chuwi (Kor. 손돌추위) and the cool winds are called Sondol baram (Kor. 손돌바람) in reference to a legendary seaman who died around this time.