Beginning of Summer (Lixia)
It is the beginning of summer. For people in the south of the Sichuan Basin, Lixia indeed means the beginning of summer. But for those in the rest of the regions in the Sichuan Basin, spring has yet to end and summer has yet to come, as the temperature is still hovering around 20oC. In the low-altitude valleys southwest of Sichuan, where summer comes as early as the middle of April, the temperature usually tops 24oC prior to Lixia.
In the old days, red beans, soybeans, black beans, green beans and mung beans were cooked with rice into "five-color rice" on the day of Summer Begins. Eggs boiled in black tea or walnut shell water were sent as gifts called "Beginning of Summer eggs." And children would strike Beginning of Summer eggs together see whose egg would remain intact.
Cherries: Ripe cherries are seasonal during Lixia period. You can visit farms to pick and feast on fresh cherries.
Grain Buds (Xiaoman)
Xiaoman refers to the season that the grains of some summer crops, like wheat, fill up before they are completely ripe. As a Sichuan proverb goes, "if fields are not filled with water on the day of Xiaoman, the field ridges will crack." Grain Buds is also the season for rice planting. In the Sichuan Basin, the intensity of summer droughts has a direct impact on rice planting and yields.
Grain Buds sees an obvious rise in temperature and amount of rainwater. Vegetables and foods which help eliminate dampness and heat are recommended in daily diets.
Heat-clearing food: Summer is a season of abundant food. Red beans, mung beans, white gourd, cucumber, day lily, cress, black fungus, carrot and tomato are all good foods in the summer.
Grain in Ear (Mangzhong)
As old saying goes, "in the fifth month of the lunar year, grains with awns can be grafted." In this season, the weather becomes hot and southern China enters into rainy season. In the fields, a vast stretch of verdant rice is just planted while the golden wheat will be ripen for harvesting.The word Grain in Ear reflects characteristics and regularities of traditional agriculture in China.
In summer, the days are long and the nights short. According to traditional Chinese philosophy of health maintenance, appropriate nap in the noon can help alleviate fatigue. In the diet aspect, mild food is recommended. In ancient times, people held ceremonies to bid farewell to Floral God who was said to leave on the day of Mangzhong.
Seedling: During the period of Mangzhong, in most regions of China, semilate-rice seedlings resume growth. In the countryside, the fields are of beautiful sceneries that worth visiting.
Green plum: As summer continues, green plums become yellow gradually. When the plums are ripe enough to pick, they can be steeped in wine or boiled with water. Then you could enjoy the taste of early summer.
Summer Solstice (Xiazhi)
Using a sundial to measure the shadow, Summer Solstice is the first established solar term by ancient Chinese people. Summer Solstice marks the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere when the Sun is exactly at the celestial longitude of 90°. On this day, Yang reaches the climax and then starts to decrease while Yin resumes.
In ancient China, Xiazhi was celebrated as a festival when people held sacred ceremonies to ward off famine and pray for autumn harvest. Today, Xiazhi customs vary across the country. In general, people tend to eat fresh vegetables, fruits and tonic porridge and soup. In northern China, the custom is having noodles on the Summer Solstice while dumplings on the winter solstice.
Chinese parasol tree: In summer, Chinese parasol trees are thriving with lush and exuberant leaves. The swinging trees in the wind form ceaseless waves of green, and bring a sense of coolness to people's body and soul.
Fan: As the first lines in the traditional Chinese ballad Xiazhi Nine-nine Song goes, "From the first nine days to the second nine days of summer, fans are always in our hands." In ancient times, it's a custom for women to gift friends with fans on the day of Xiazhi.
Slight Heat (Xiaoshu)
In Chinese, Shu means torridity. At this time, in the area along Yangtze-Huaihe river, the rainy season is about to cease, and the temperature continues to soar and the "Fu" tend to occur. According to Hanshu - Lilvzhi (The Book of Han - the Treatise on Rhythm and the Calendar), fu refers to that "Yin is yet to rise as Yang still remains." During this period, sultry weather is common and preventive measures against floods and droughts should be adopted.
In ancient times, Xiaoshu was also celebrated as the "sixth month festival" as grain god was worshiped and books were basked in the sunshine. In some regions, it is also known as "fu yang jie" as people prefer mutton soup as a tonic remedy to summer heat and strength depletion. In addition, it's widely believed that excessive perspiration or overfeeding of cold food is particularly unhealthy on the day of Xiaoshu.
Cicada: Cicadas start to show their voices from Xiaoshu. The singing of cicadas in the afternoon is a unique memory of summer.
Summer sleeping mat: Sleeping on a bamboo or straw mat is a simple and practical way to relieve summer heat.
Great Heat (Dashu)
Dashu is the 12th solar term. It's in the middle of the sixth lunar month as well as the middle of "Sanfu"(three fu) duration. It's widely believed to be one of the hottest solar terms of the year. During this period, the weather is sweltering in most regions of China and tropophilous crops grow fast. Preventative measures against droughts should be took to secure agriculture.
Seasonal customs include baking gingers in the sun and drinking tea. In Sanfu days, mature gingers are baked to be used as ginger decoction, a remedy to cold. And tea mixed with herbal medicine is consumed to quench thirst and relieve heat. In addition, appropriate intake of meat and tonic soup is also recommended.
Bamboo: Shunan Bamboo Forest in Yibin, Sichuan, is a nationally well-known summer resort.
Watermelon: juicy and yummy, necessary in summer.