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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.

Lantern Festival 2018

Today is Lantern Festival  元宵节. It falls on the 15th of the first month of the lunar new year i.e. the night of the first full moon. It marks the end of Chinese New Year celebrations. Traditional activities include admiring lanterns and the full moon, guessing lantern riddles, eating tangyuan (glutinous rice dumplings), enjoying lion dance and stilt-walking performances.

Chinese Lion Dancers at Suntec City Mall (Singapore)

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I went to Suntec City Mall last week to run some errands. The shops have just reopened after the Chinese New Year public holidays and a lion dance troupe were going around the various shops in the mall to perform and collect red packets. It is supposedly good luck to have lions perform for your shop, the downside being that the owner have to prepare a fat red packet for the privilege. Chinese New Year is an important time for lion dance troupes to perform and fill their coffers so you can hear the drums wherever you go in Singapore during this period.

雨水(The Rains) Chinese Solar Term 19 Feb 2018

雨水 (yushui) is the second solar term in Chinese calendar. Spring has come and the weather gets warmer with an increase in rainfall instead of snow.It is traditional for married women to return to their parents’ homes with gifts in some parts of China such as Western Sichuan.

Today is the Eve of Chinese New Year!

Today is Chinese New Year's Eve in China/Taiwan/Hong Kong as well as Singapore (same time zone UST+8 ).祝大家狗年身体健康,财源滚滚!