Mangzhong (Grain in Ear) is the 9th term of the 24 traditional Chinese solar terms, the 3rd solar term in summer. This year, it begins on June 6. It signifies the beginning of mid-summer. Literally, Mangzhong means "wheat with awn should be harvested soon, and rice seeds with awn can be sowed", as well as the busy time for farm work. On that day, the busy agricultural season arrives: mature summer crops need to be harvested, kharif crops should be sowed, and crops planted in spring need management.
Saying Farewell to the "God of Flowers"
At the Flower Festival falling on the 2nd day of second lunar month, Chinese people greet the "God of Flowers". In May when Mangzhong is upcoming, flowers begin to wither away. People are used to holding ceremony to worship the “God of Flowers”, showing their gratitude and their eagerness to see the flowers again next year. Traditionally, some hang colorful silk ribbon on branches, and some paste fallen petals onto the branches, hoping that the flowers will never wither.
The harvest season for plums is from late May to early June in South China. Hence, it is a tradition to boil plums around Mangzhong period, which can be traced back to the Xia Dynasty (2070-1600 BC). Fresh plums taste so sour that greatly affect mouthfeel. Thus, it is accustomed to cooking the fruits before being eaten. Smoked plum enjoys wide popularity among northerners of China. They like to boil plums by adding licorice, hawthorn and rock candy, to make plum syrup, a traditional summer drink. This drink especially tastes better after being added with sweet osmanthus sauce and being iced. Fresh plums are made into variety of preserved fruits, like preserved plum, milk plum and licorice plum. All of these products are loved by customers.
An Miao (seedling protection) is a traditional farming activity of southern Anhui Province that has been practiced since the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Every year when Mangzhong comes, people there hold the sacrificial ceremony after seeding the paddy rice, to pray for good harvests in the fall. They make the flour into different shapes such as cereals, animals, vegetables and fruits, color them and pray for villagers’ safety.
Young people of the Dong minority in Guizhou Province in Southeastern China hold mud wrestling matches around Mangzhong period. 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 they are the most popular person.
Fruit Trees Grafting
With Mangzhong approaching, orchardists graft together different varieties of fruit trees, in hope of harvesting higher-quality fruits. While, some simply cut several openings on the tree trunks with knife, to make these trees better exposure to air, thereby improving the fruit yields.
Drying Acetes Chinensis
During Mangzhong period, fishermen in the coastal areas busy themselves with drying Acetes chinensis. The spawning season of Acetes chinensis is around this solar term, during which such shrimp species feature fat, high-quality and nutrient-rich meat. Thus, the dried Acetes chinensis is called as “Mangzhong Acetes chinensis” by people there.
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