Editor's note: The 24 Solar terms are an ancient Chinese calendar used to guide farming. They are the crystallization of the accumulated experience and wisdom of the working people of the Chinese nation. Since ancient China was an agricultural society, people required a strict understanding of the sun’s movement, and farming was conducted entirely according to the sun as well. Therefore, the “24 solar terms”, which reflects the sun’s movement cycle, were added to the calendar as the standard for determining leap months. The 24 solar terms are: Start of Spring, Rain, Awakening of Insects, Spring Equinox, Qingming festival, Grain Rain, Start of Summer, Grain buds, Grain in Ear, Summer Solstice, Minor Heat, Major Heat, Start of Autumn, End of Heat, White Dew, Autumn Equinox, Cold Dew, Frost’s Descent, Start of Winter, Minor Snow, Major Snow, Winter Solstice, Minor Cold and Major Cold. On November 30, 2016, China’s “24 Solar terms” were officially inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of intangible Cultural Heritages of Humanity. We have introduced these 24 Solar terms column to bring you a taste of the beauty of traditional Chinese culture.
The start of Summer is the 7th of the 24 solar terms. It usually occurs around May 5th every year, when people say goodbye to Spring and welcome Summer. This is the time of seasonal changes. The temperature gets higher, fruits become mature and animals grow, alongside a variety of traditional customs.
The start of summer
“Eating fresh food” is one of the most popular customs. People usually eat three kinds of fresh food—cherries, green plums and wheat. People offer these three kinds of food for ancestor worship and then share with each other. As time goes by, people aim to eat different varieties of food and call them “nine meat and thirteen vegetables”.
During the start of summer, people hang a scale with a chair on their gates. They sit on the chair by order while the weigher says blessings to them. They believe that weighing at the start of summer brings them luck.
Eggs are essential in the start of summer. Since the shape of an egg is similar to a heart, people believe that eating egg is good for their health. They not only eat eggs but use them for games. Firstly, cooked eggs will be put in colorful string bags. Then, kids hang the bags around their neck and hold the eggs to hit others’ eggs. The losers are kids whose eggs broke during the hitting and the winner is the kid who has a complete egg at the end.
The hottest weather comes after the start of summer, which has a great impact on people’s physical and medical health. Therefore, it is an important time for a balanced diet, including more fresh vegetables and herbal medicine. Also, many like to practice Taichi or other Chinese traditional exercises to strengthen their bodies.