Learning Chinese | Minor Heat (小暑)


Minor Heat, 小暑 xiǎo shǔ

Minor Heat, or Xiaoshu in Chinese is the 11th of the 24 solar terms. The character "shu" means heat. The ancient Chinese believed that the weather during Minor Heat was not the hottest moment of a year so they added "minor" before "heat." Although Minor Heat is not the hottest season of the year, it is followed by the hottest solar term, Major Heat. As a Chinese proverb goes, during Minor Heat and Major Heat we seem to be heated in an oven. During Minor Heat, many regions in China enter the season with the highest occurrence of thunderstorms.

Minor Heat marks the beginning of the dog days of summer, known as the "sanfu." The days of sanfu typically occur between Minor Heat and End of Heat and represent the hottest and most humid period of the year. The monsoon climate is a significant characteristic of China's weather. With the summer season influenced by warm and moist air currents from the ocean, many regions in China experience high temperatures, humidity, and abundant rainfall. Despite the intense sunlight, high temperatures, humidity, and rainfall during Minor Heat, it is beneficial for crop growth due to the combination of rain and heat.

In the past, people had the custom of "eating the fresh" during Minor Heat in the southern regions of China. They ground newly-harvested rice and wheat into flour to make various types of patties and noodles. People shared these foods with their neighbors praying for a bountiful harvest. Meanwhile they would spare a portion of these food as sacrifices for their ancestors hoping they would bless them with favorable weather conditions. In northern regions, there is a tradition of eatin