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24 Chinese Solar terms – The Beginning of Autumn

You will never believe it, but according to the Chinese lunar calendar, autumn begins already today, August 7th. The name in Chinese for this period is 立秋, or lì qīu in Pinyin. It is the thirteenth of the 24 Solar Terms. Literally, the Chinese character qiu (秋, autumn) consists of two parts, he (禾, rice) and huo (火, fire), meaning the ripening of rice, which makes The Beginning of Autumn a very important time for farmers. At this time, the days are supposed to become cooler and cooler, especially in contrast to the previous Solar Term – Major Heat. But in fact, this is not really true. The period of 30 days after the Beginning of Autumn is called “Autumn Tiger”, or “Indian Summer” when because of less precipitation, the climate is more sweltering than during “Major Heat”. 

Like all of the 24 Chinese Solar Terms, Li Qiu has three pentads. They are:       

一候凉风至 (liáng fēng zhì):People will feel cool when there is a breeze, not like the heat wave in Greater Heat.

二候白露降 (bái lù jiàng):In the morning, there will be dew on the ground or the plants.

三候寒蝉鸣 (hán chán míng):The winter cicada will start to stridulate as they will sense the emerging Yin energy.

On the first day of Li Qiu, the Chinese weigh themselves and if they have lost some kilograms since The Beginning of Summer – they should flesh out by eating many different kinds of delicious food, especially meat.

As we said already, for farmers, Li Qiu is a very important season, as it is the time to gather crops. One Chinese saying claims that “If it rains on the day of the Start of Autumn, a good harvest is expected.”

Of course, there is no Chinese Solar Term (or another festival) without “must-eats”. These traditions might be different according to the region and today we want to tell you about the most common “dining customs”.

Let’s start with peaches. The Chinese eat them and save the peach stone until the Chinese New Year’s Eve, then throw the peach pits into the stove where they burn into ash. People used to believe that in this way, plagues could be prevented for the whole year.

Peaches is a must-eat during the beginning of autumn solar term

Because the Beginning of Autumn is the harvest time for Taiwan longan, people usually eat them during this Solar Term. People believe that eating longan will help their descendants become senior officials. Not a bad deal, if you ask me: eat some fruit, and you will have successful offspring!

Longan is a must-eat during The beginning of autumn solar term

As the Chinese can eat dumplings all year around – this period is no exception. During this Solar Term, Chinese families (especially in Shandong province) have to make dumplings and after the Beginning of Autumn eat them together. The other tradition for this area is on the day of the Start of Autumn, senior members of the family will stand in the middle of the hall, worshiping a bowl of cereal, and praying for the harvest in autumn.  

Another food custom is to eat red beans during Li Qiu. The Chinese take 7 to 14 little beans, swallowing them with water. When taking the beans, one must face west, it is said, so as not to get dysentery during autumn.

The last but not the least tradition we are going to tell you about is about gourds. During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), people would put gourds outside for a day before the Start of Autumn, and eat them on Start of Autumn day to drive off the summer heat. Nowadays, there are still people following this custom, as they believe that eating melons such as towel gourd, white gourd and bitter gourd can prevent diarrhea in autumn and the coming winter and spring.  

Gourd melon is a must-eat during the beginning of autumn solar term

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