Major Heat, 大暑 dà shǔ
Major Heat is the 12th of the 24 solar terms of the Chinese lunar calendar and the last one of the summer. The character “shu” means heat and Major Heat refers to the extreme heat. Compared to Minor Heat, Major Heat is even hotter, representing the peak of intense sunlight and scorching temperatures during the year. The combination of humidity and heat reaches its highest point during this solar term.
During the period of Major Heat, thunderstorms are most frequent, and there is abundant rainfall. The high temperatures and rainy weather coincide during this time. The monsoon climate is a prominent characteristic of China’s climate, with many regions experiencing hot, humid, and rainy conditions in summer. The intense sunlight, high temperatures, humidity, and rainfall make this season challenging, but it is highly beneficial for the growth of crops, as they thrive under these conditions.
Traditionally, there are customs associated with drinking herbal tea, known as “Fucha,” during sanfu. Fucha, as the name suggests, is a type of herbal tea consumed during these periods to provide a refreshing and cooling effect. Another custom is the practice of sun-drying fujiang (ginger of summer days) during the extreme heat. People in Shanxi, Henan, and other regions of China slice or extract juice from fresh ginger, mix it with brown sugar, place it in a container covered with gauze, and expose it to the sun. After the ginger and sugar blend well, it is consumed. This practice is believed to be effective in treating stomach discomfort, coughs, and providing warmth and health benefits. Major Heat is the hottest and most humid period of the year, and the key focus of health preservation during this time is to prevent heatstroke and eliminate dampness.