Blog

小暑 Xiaoshu (Minor Heat) 7 July 2018

小暑 Xiaoshu (Minor Heat) is the eleventh solar term in the Chinese calendar. It marks the final month of summer. As the name suggests, it’s hot but not the hottest time of the year yet. The plum rains season is close to an end and droughts are coming. Due to the high temperature, strong sunshine and long days during this period, there is a custom of airing out clothes and other household belongings in the sun to prevent mold and insects. Jasmine flowers are used to perfume rooms. New rice is eaten as well as ricefield eels.

夏至(xiazhi)Summer Solstice 21 June 2018

夏至 (xiazhi)or Summer Solstice is the tenth solar term in the Chinese calendar.As in other countries, this is the longest day of the year and also the shortest night. The weather turns fickle, there are rainstorms, plum rain in the Jianghuai area of China and it is hot and humid.

Duanwujie 端午节 Dragonboat Festival 18 June 2018

The fifth day of the fifth lunar month is  端午节, commonly known as the Dragonboat Festival in English. It is a public holiday in China  and the fesival was added to the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage List on October 30th 2009. It commemorates the suicide of poet and patriot Qu Yuan in Miluo River after his kingdom of Chu was invaded by Qin. 

芒种 (mang zhong) Grain In Ear 6 June 2018

Today is 芒种, the nineth solar term. Wheat and barley ripens in Northern China and it is time for summer planting in Southern China. Plums ripen and are eaten for good health which is why the start of the rainy season in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze river is called “plum rains”. It will be hot, humid and rainy until mid-July.

小满(Xiao Man) Grain Buds 21 May 2018

21 May is 小满 (Grain Buds), the second solar term of summer. It is so named because the summer crops like barley and wheat are starting to bud but are not ready for harvest yet.Rain increases in the south and the temperature difference between the north and the south narrows. It is customary to eat bitter herbs like sow thistle for good health. Silk production areas in Jiangnan area (in southeastern China) worship the silkworm goddess (according to legend this is the birthday of Leizu, the Yellow Emperor’s wife who founded silkworm farming).

立夏 (Lixia) Beginning of Summer 5 May 2018

Today is 立夏 (Beginning of Summer) which as its name suggests marks the beginning of Summer and the end of spring. It is the first solar term of Summer and temperature starts to get hot with thunderstorms. Folk customs include children fighting with the pointed ends of boiled eggs (the winner is the one with the unbroken egg), weighing people (to wish for good health) and the tasting of new foods. It is time to transplant rice seedlings and harvest spring crops like grapes and melon.

谷雨 (Guyu) Grain Rain 20 April 2018

Today is  谷雨 or Grain Rain  which is the last solar term of Spring. It is called Grain Rain because  “雨生百谷” (Rain sprouts a hundred grains). This is the best time for sowing seed and planting seedlings. In Southern China, there is usually quite a lot of rain during this period which is suitable for growing rice and corn. In Northern China, there is a custom of eating  香椿 (Chinese toon, a kind of vegetable) on this day, whereas Southern Chinese would pick fresh spring tea and drink it on this day. 

Qingming Festival 5 April 2018

Today is Qingming Festival 清明节 (qing ming jie) which the Chinese government has designated a public holiday as part of their drive to promote traditional culture. This is traditionally a day for venerating and making offerings to one’s ancestors as well tomb-sweeping. Other traditional activities include 踏青( “ta qing” meaning going for a spring walk), kite-flying, swinging on swings and playing 蹴鞠 cuju (a kind of Chinese football).

There is a famous poem by Du Mu 杜牧  called 《清明》which is often quoted on this day.

Pure Brightness(Qing Ming) Festival

春分(chunfen) Spring Equinox 21 March 2018

Today is the Spring Equinox in China, one of the twenty four solar terms marking the middle of the Spring season.
It has been celebrated in China for 4000 years. Charming customs on this day include the flying of kites, attempting to stand eggs on end (which is supposed to be easier to do on this day), picking wild spring vegetables and boiling them with fish fillets to eat, sending lucky pictures of cows printed on yellow or red paper to other households.

惊蛰(Jingzhe) Awakening of Insects 5 March 2018

Today is  惊蛰(Jingzhe) the third solar term in the Chinese calendar. It is called “Awakening of Insects” because the warming temperature results in spring thunder which is supposed to awaken animals and insects which have been hibernating for winter. This is a time for spring plowing and the beginning of the agricultural work for the year. There are also folk customs of eating pears, beating of drums to emulate the thunder god and offering sacrifice to the white tiger.