As the end of May is near and the rainfall increases, the summer season is coming closer and it’s time for a new solar term – Grain Buds or 小满 (Xiǎomǎn in pinyin), to begin. Grain Buds is the 8th solar term and usually starts between May 20 and 22 every year. In 2020, this day falls on 20th of May and marks that the seeds from the grain are becoming full but are not ripe.
Three pentads of Grain Buds
一候苦菜秀 (Yī hóu kǔ cài xiù in pinyin) means a Chinese bitter flavor herb called kucai will flourish
二候靡草死 (Èr hóu mí cǎo sǐ in pinyin) says that the plants with soft branches will die of the heat
三候麦秋至 (Sān hóu màiqiū zhì in pinyin) is that the wheat will be ready for harvest
Grain Buds is the season of hot and humid days. As the character 满 (mǎn in pinyin) refers to the amount of rain that falls, the precipitation increases in both southern and northern China. On the other hand, Chinese farmers believe that if there is not enough water during this period, the crops will not grow when the next solar term comes.
Key point of flower management
This season is not only key for the crops, but also for the growth of flowers. Chinese people say that during this period of time, it is especially important to take care of the flowers as plant diseases are spreading very fast. So give your flowers a bit more attention and don’t forget – they need a lot of water at this hot term.
A good season for eating fish
During the Grain Buds period, the summer harvest is about to begin. A saying about rain during this time mentions, “A heavy rainfall makes the river full.” Because of the great increase in rainfall, rivers are full of water, which makes fish and shrimp big and fat. It is not only the harvest season for fishermen, but also a good time for people to eat fish and shrimps.
Seasonal food of Grain Buds
Talking about culinary customs, Grain Buds is also a good time for eating a Chinese herb calls sow thistle (苦菜, or kǔ cài in pinyin). It has a mix of bitter, acerbic and sweet flavors and can be used in different dishes – blended with salt, vinegar, peppers or garlic; boiled and squeezed into sauces or used for making soup. This wild herb full of vitamins is used in Chinese medicine for heat-cleaning, blood cooling and detoxing the body. Also, this solar term is the best season to eat cherries, mulberries, mangosteen, cucumbers and garlic shoots. Sounds like the perfect time to fill up on all vital vitamins 😉
Celebrating silkworm deity birthday
You probably didn’t know, but the silkworm deity has its own birthday and according to legends, it falls into the Grain Buds solar term. In ancient times, silkworms were quite difficult to breed and people regarded them as God-given gifts, for they are the source where people can get silk. Nowadays, in the region of the Yangtze river, people still celebrate the birthday of the deity. They build temples, make offerings and hold ceremonies to worship the God of Silk and get blessings for their silk business.
Chinese people say that because of the high temperatures and high humidity, everyone should pay more attention to their health, especially to the skin. It is recommended to follow a diet by eating more light foods and exercise to stay healthy during the hot summer days. Walking, jogging and practicing Tai Chi are all popular pass-times among Chinese people during this period, feel free to join the walking or dancing people in the nearest park! Still, remember to keep your social distance. It is not recommended to have too much cold food or drinks during this time, as it may cause stomach aches and diarrhea.