Chinese Solar Terms: Grain in Ear2016-06-03 14:57:00Share:
The traditional Chinese lunar calendar divides the year into 24 solar terms. Grain in Ear, (Chinese: 芒种), the 9th solar term of a year, begins on June 6 this year, and ends on June 21.
The arrival of Grain in Ear signifies the ripening of crops such as barley and wheat. It is also a busy period for farmers.
In China, the 24 solar terms were created thousands of years ago to guide agricultural production. But the solar term culture is still useful today to guide people's lives through special foods, cultural ceremonies and even healthy living tips that correspond with each solar term.
The following are 7 things you need to know about Grain in Ear.
1. Boil green plums
In Southern China, May and June are the seasons when plums become ripe. There was an allusion that Cao Cao and Liu Bei, two of the central figures of the Three Kingdoms period (AD220-280), talked about heroes while boiling green plums.
Green plums contain a variety of natural and high-quality organic acids and are rich in minerals. They can help clean blood, lower blood lipids, eliminate tiredness and improve one's looks. However, fresh plums are acerb and need boiling before they are eaten.
2. Have light food
The renowned doctor Sun Simiao of the Tang Dynasty (AD618-907) advised not to eat greasy or strongly flavored food during the Grain in Ear season. He said coarse food grain was the best, and vegetables were preferred to meat.
Generally, vegetables and grains which work in lowering the blood pressure and high blood fat should be the first choice. During this season, people are encouraged to consume less lamb, pork, hot peppers, onions and gingers if they are frequently feeling thirsty and tired.
3. Eat fruits and vegetables with cooling properties
The weather is hot during the Grain in Ear period. It is suggested that vegetables with cooling properties are the best sort of fruits to have in hot weather. The balsam pear is just a classic representative. Belonging to the melon group of vegetables, the pear contains a lot of natural and nourishing water. It's also said to have healing properties, which are good for patients suffering from either high blood pressure or high blood sugar.
Tomatoes are very nutritious. Being abundant in Vitamin C, tomatoes help clear away heat and toxic.
Other vegetables such as cucumber, eggplant, celery, lettuce, and asparagus all belong to "cooling vegetables". These vegetables can eliminate the heat inside our bodies, expel toxins and promote digestion.
Watermelon can supplement the water and potassium we lose when sweating during the Grain in Ear period.
Pears are juicy, and have a sweet and sour taste. Because of its cooling and refreshing properties, it is given the name “natural mineral water,” and is very good for the skin.
Strawberry is also a good fruit to eat during hot weather.
4. An increase of rainfall
Rainfall increases during Grain in Ear compared to the previous eight solar terms. Regions in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River in China are about to enter the Plum Rains season.
Plum Rains, often occurring during June and July, refer to the long period of continuous rainy or cloudy weather accompanied by frequent and large amounts of rainfall. June and July are also time for plums to become ripe, so it is called plum rains.
Plum Rains is a good period for growing rice, vegetables and fruits. People can take advantage of the climate resources and accordingly arrange farming activities. But extremely unusual Plum Rains can also cause disasters such as floods or continuous droughts.
5. Say farewell to the flora
In ancient China, on February 2nd of the lunar calendar, people welcomed the arrival of the Flower Goddess. During Grain in Ear, for it is near May on the lunar calendar, people held sacrificial ceremonies to bid farewell to the flora and show their gratitude.
Today, this custom does not exist in many areas of China. The liveliness and excitement of the ceremony during Grain in Ear can still be seen in the 27th chapter of the Chinese classic novel “A Dream of Red Mansions” by Cao Xueqin.
6. Pray for good harvest
Anmiao is a traditional farming activity of southern Anhui Province that has been in existence since the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Every year when Grain in Ear comes, after people have planted rice, they hold this sacrificial ceremony to pray for good harvests in the fall. People make different forms of bread from wheat flour and colorize them with vegetable juice. Then the bread is used as a sacrificial offering to pray for a good harvest and people's safety.
7. Mud wrestling
Young people of the Dong Minority in Southeastern Guizhou province hold yearly mud wrestling matches during Grain in Ear. On this day newlyweds accompanied by their good friends plant rice together. While planting, they throw mud at each other. At the end of this activity, whoever has the most mud on them proves that they are the most popular person.
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