Beginning of Autumn (Liqiu)
Literally, Liqiu means the start of autumn. In fact, temperature is still high at this time. And there is the third part of the "Sanfu" duration. After Beginning of Autumn, cereals ripen day by day and some crops are even harvestable. For farmers, although there is no much farm work to do, diligence is still needed to secure the final harvest of autumn.
In the Han Dynasty (202 BC–220 AD), Qiusheri(the day of Autumn) was established as a post-liqiu festival to worship land gods. On the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, Qiqiao Festival is celebrated which today is known as the Chinese Valentine's Day.
Lotus: In this season, there are large areas of blossomy lotuses in Sansheng Village and Xindu District to view and admire.
Lotus seed: In early August, fresh lotus seeds are on the market. Eaten directly or prepared in tea or soup, lotus seeds are medicative of clearing heat.
The End of Heat (Chushu)
"Chu" means stop. Chushu means that summer heat gradually dies away. At this time, "Heaven and Earth begin to show signs of desolation" and "grains become ripe." With summer heat fading and temperature falling, the autumn sky is clear and the air is crisp. Amidst season transition, a spell of hot weather might last for 7 to 10 days in southern regions of China, a climate phenomenon dubbed "autumn tiger."
Around Chushu, Zhongyuan Festival, also called Ghost Festival, is celebrated. According to legends, on this day ghosts and spirits, including those of the deceased ancestors, are released from the lower realm. To pay tributes to ancestors, people go tomb-sweeping, offer prayers and float lotus lanterns in a river. In the diet aspect, fresh vegetables and fruits are recommended for their tonic functions of nourishing Yin and alleviating dryness. In some regions, it's a custom on the day of Chushu to eat duck which is deemed sweet in taste and "cold" as in traditional Chinses medical nature.
Falls: In nearby areas around Chengdu, there are scenic waterfalls at Jiuzhaigou, Huanglong and Bifengxia, Ya'an, all of which are good summer resorts to bring refreshing coolness.
Umbrella: A useful tool to ward off sunshine and rain. From ancient to modern times, traditional Chinese oiled-paper umbrella is always of poetic beauty.
White Dew (Bailu)
"The reeds and rushes are grey, and the White Dew turns into hoarfrost." The poem Shi Jing(the Book of Odes): Jian Jia describes the typical scenery and weather during this season: at night, the mist in the air condenses into drops on the edges of twig and leaf; in the morning, the dews shine in the sunlight, glittering and translucent. As for agriculture, crops should be protected from possible damages from cold air.
On the day of Bailu, people in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces are used to drink tea and brew rice wine. In Fuzhou province, the custom is eating longan. And in other regions like Luzhou, Sichuan, local people also pick longan fruits at this time. As the proverb goes, "when White Dew comes, longan ripens."
Osmanthus flower: a seasonal flower during the period of Bailu. Xindu District of Chengdu is a good place to appreciate Osmanthus flowers.
Pear: During this time there are many fresh fruits on the market, especially pears, whose juice can embellish dryness in traditional Chinese medical philosophy, are the most seasonal fruit.
The Autumn Equinox (Qiufen)
After Qiufen, the Northern Hemisphere sees shorter days and longer nights. In fact, The Autumn Equinox marks the start of autumn. It's a busy season for agriculture from harvest to cultivation as well as autumn sowing. What follows the Autumn Equinox are waned sunshine, less insects and moisture. The nature starts to prepare for the winter.
In this season, the Mid-autumn Festival is an important event when, as a tradition, families get together to appreciate the full moon. Despite a remarkable drop in temperature, people don't haste to wear heavy clothes as a custom of which changing clothes too early in spring and autumn, especially amid changeable weather, is believed to incur illness.
Moon: The good weather provides good opportunities to appreciate the bright and round moon.
Crab: In this season, crabs taste best.
Cold Dew (Hanlu)
Like Bailu, Hanlu also refers to moisture condensation phenomenon but with lower temperature. In this season, frosting is imminent as the temperature continues to decrease. In fact, Hanlu marks the official beginning of autumn. At clear night, you might find obvious changes of astronomical phenomena. The mild weather during this period is favorable for autumn vegetables. Plantation and cultivation are recommended.
During this season, rains of autumn last for days in Sichuan. However the air humidity is in decrease, and an appropriate intake of sweet, mild and tonic food is recommended such as lotus roots, white fungi and glutinous rice congee.
Chrysanthemum: In cool weather, swan geese fly south and chrysanthemums are in full bloom. It's the best time to go hiking, enjoy beautiful views from top and appreciate chrysanthemums. At the downtown People's Park, a grand exhibition of various chrysanthemums is held every year.
First Frost (Shuangjiang)
Literally, Shuangjiang means the appearance of forest. This is the last solar term in autumn. And the weather continues to cool down. Meanwhile, it's the busy farming season in southern China, and farmers are occupied with harvesting late rice, plowing farmlands and sowing early wheat and rapes. As the proverb goes, "on the day of Shuangjiang, forest kill hundred weeds." Although there are only about 10 forest days in Sichuan Basin, plantation should be avoided during this time in case of frostbite.
What follows Shuangjiang is a drop in temperature and precipitation. During this period, people usually eat radish, chestnut and lily as a remedy to autumn dryness.
Maple: It's the best time to go sightseeing at maple-themed resorts nearby Chengdu to feast on colorful and marvelous trees and leaves. An annual spectacular that you should not miss.
Persimmon: As persimmons ripen around Shuangjiang, it's the best time to taste this fruit.