After the warm spring, people will embrace the increasingly sweltering summer. Summer is the second season in the four seasons of a year. Lixia is the beginning of summer. Summer ends on the day of Liqiu (Beginning of Autumn). In spring, orchard trees and crops germinate and bloom, and in summer they begin to bear fruit. At this time, diverse fruits and vegetables are available on the market for people to choose from, such as watermelons, sweet melons and eggplants. Under the scorching sun, farmers are busy with weeding and spraying pesticide to take care of their crops. They expect that there would be good yields in autumn.
Lixia (Beginning of Summer) is the seventh solar term in the twenty-four solar terms in the lunar calendar. It is also the first solar term in summer, signifying the beginning of the hot summer. In astronomy, Lixia means the end of spring, and the beginning of summer. People usually consider Lixia as an important solar term. When it comes, the temperature rises obviously, and summer heat arrives, there is a remarkable increase in thunder storms, and crops enter their peak season for growth.
Xiaoman is the eighth solar term in the twenty-four solar terms, and the second one in summer. During Xiaoman, summer harvest crops such as barley and wheat already bear fruits, and their seeds are full though they are not ripe yet. Thus, the solar term is named Xiaoman (Grain Buds).
The solar term Xiaoman is in late May. Summer begins to reach all parts of the country. High temperatures are increasingly prevalent, with the temperature difference between the south and the north shrinking further. Rainfall begins to increase further. The temperature in the areas to the south of Yellow River and along the lower reaches of Yangtze River begins to climb up to 35 degrees Celsius. People need to prepare for heat prevention, and cooling.
Mangzhong (Grain in Ear) is the ninth solar term in the twenty-four solar terms, as well as the third one in summer. It signifies the beginning of mid-summer. Literally, Mangzhong means “wheat with awn should be harvested soon, and rice seeds with awn can be sown”. (Awn is the bristles on the grain.) It heralds the busy Farming Activities of farmers.
The fifth day of the fifth lunar month each year is the Dragon Boat Festival. Every two years, the festival would coincide with Mangzhong (Grain in Beard). Dragon Boat Festival has remained a traditional holiday for the Chinese for two thousand years. The customs on the day include hanging calamus or Artemisia in the house, dragon boat race, and eating Zongzi, a Chinese traditional snack. The dragon boat race now has seen new developments. It has become an international sports event.
On the day of Xiazhi (Summer Solstice), the Tropic of Cancer receives direct sunlight radiation, and the daytime in the Northern Hemisphere reaches its maximum length. The more northern a place is, the longer its daytime is. At Xiazhi, though there is direct sunlight, it is not the hottest time in a year. It is usually said that the hottest days are the dog days (which get their name from the dog star, Sirius, and its position in the sky). The real hot weather is marked by Xiazhi and Liqiu. From mid-July to mid-August, all parts of China will see their highest temperatures. In some places, the temperature may even exceed 40 degrees Celsius.
In the Chinese lunar calendar, the term jiu (a period of nine days) is a popular one accepted by the Chinese people. There are nine winter jiu and nine summer jiu, of which the summer jiu starts from Xiazhi. Each nine day stretch is a jiu. Each summer has nine jiu, namely eighty-one days. The third and fourth jiu periods are the hottest days of the year.
Xiaoshu (Minor Heat) is the eleventh solar term of the twenty-four solar terms, as well as the fifth one in summer. It signifies the beginning of late summer. The character shu (暑) means heat. Xiaoshu is minor heat, which means it’s not very hot. The weather is getting increasingly hot, but not the hottest moment yet. Most parts of the country can be described by this solar term. The crops in the entire country begin to grow rapidly, and this situation requires more intensive field management.
Dashu is the twelfth solar term in the twenty-four solar terms, as well as the last one in summer. The character shu (暑) means heat. Dashu is extreme heat. Compared to Xiaoshu (Minor Heat), it’s much hotter, and it marks the hottest period with the highest temperatures in a year. And it also marks the period with the fastest growth for crops which enjoy heat.
Dashu is the time when jasmine and lotus blossoms. It is the ideal time to appreciate lotus flowers. The West Lake in Hangzhou is one of the best places for appreciating lotus flowers.