Beginning of Autumn (Liqiu) ranks 13th in 24 solar terms. “Autumn” heralds the end of scorching summer and the beginning of cool autumn. At the Beginning of Autumn, leaves of Chinese parasol trees start falling. Therefore, it is said that one falling leaf is indicative of the coming of autumn. Autumn is a transition season from hot summer to cold winter. The Beginning of Autumn is the first solar term.
▶ Autumn Tiger
The period of hot days after the Beginning of Autumn (around August 8) often lasts not long, which called Autumn Tiger. More often than not, it occurs at the turn of August and September and lasts for about 7 to 15 days. Although quite high in temperature, generally, the period is dry, sunny and free from breathless heat in morning and evening.
▶ Qiumang Fair
Qiumang Fair (Busy Autumn Fair), often held during the 7th or 8th lunar month. It is a business and trade fair to welcome the busy autumn harvest. Some team up with temple fairs and some are held to welcome the autumn harvest. Like Xiamang Fair (Busy Summer Fair) in scale, Qiumang Fair is home to diverse markets such as mule and horse market, grain market, farm machinery market, cloth market and Beijing and Guangzhou-produced grocery market. In addition to these markets, there are also interesting opera performances, horse races and monkey shows during the fair.
▶ Qiushe Day
Dating back to the Han Dynasty, Qiushe was born as a day to worship the Earth God in autumn Later generations set the fifth wuri (wu is the fifth of the ten Heavenly Stems) after the Beginning of Autumn for Qiushe Day. On the day when the harvest season came to an end, both governments and folks worshiped the Earth God to express their thanks. In addition, it was also the custom of the day to eat pastry, drink wine and pay a visit to parents or elders for women during the Song Dynasty. Han Wo, a poet of the Tang Dynasty, ever mentioned the custom of paying a visit to parents of women on the Qiushe Day in his poem Refusal to Meet., “Zuoshe”, “Worshiping the God of She” and “Boiling She Porridge” are still popular in some places till today.
▶ Eating Peaches and Longans
The Beginning of Autumn period is also the harvest time for Taiwan longan. People believe that longan will help their descendants become senior officials. Plus longan is commonly known as “Fuyuan (Lucky Circle)”. Therefore, there goes an old saying that longans brings people good luck for giving birth to son and grandson and ranking first in the palace examination. For that reason, people who live in south of the Yangtze River carry on the tradition of eating autumn peaches on the Beginning of Autumn day. Adults and children will eat one autumn peach on the day. Peach can not only replenish the yin-fluid consumed in summer days, but also produce body fluid to prevent autumn dryness. Moreover, the peach pit can be preserved after eating the peach. Until the New Year’s Eve, people will throw the peach pit in the stove to pray for exemption from plagues in the upcoming year.
▶ Autumn Tea
As a transition period from summer to autumn, early autumn is still plagued by scorching heat of sorts. During this period, people are well advised to drink pu'er tea and oolong tea. With a just-right cool nature according to traditional Chinese medicine, pu'er tea is a perfect choice for daytime. With a neutral nature between warm black tea and cool green tea according to traditional Chinese medicine, oolong tea can not only eliminate residual internal heat but also help regain body fluid.
▶ Eating Eggplant
Just as a Chinese proverb says, “plant eggplant during the Beginning of Summer period and eat eggplant during the Beginning of Autumn period”, the Beginning of Autumn period is right time for eating eggplant. In addition to the therapeutic effects on internal heat and autumn dryness in this season, eggplant also enjoys unique aroma and fine mouth feel. Harvested in autumn, it is also called “autumn eggplant.” Thereby it boasts a better taste than common ones.
▶ Eating Pumpkin
Pumpkin is perfect for “fleshing out in autumn”. As it grows drier with the arrival of autumn, the water in the skin mucosa expedites evaporation, which will be easily resulting in dryness. Pumpkin can not only moisten dryness according to traditional Chinese medicine, but also generate physical feelings of satiety. So, people believe that eating pumpkin can store up energy for the coming winter.
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