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Midsummer. The radiating light from the frisky sun touches the river ripples playfully. It reverberates to the beings in the small yet beautiful ecosystem. The careful wave crashes with the lotus blossoms in full florescence. Its champagne brush dances with every babble of the river, seemingly on an endless dance. As the lotus brings a sparkle to the springtime air, the assuaging zephyr carries. It brings the fragrant yet mellow scent to every olfactory system around the place. Enchanting every single being in that perfect little scene.
It is perfect, isn’t it? The perfect humidity. The balanced combination of wind and sun. The cheerful vibe intoxicates everyone. Everything is just at the right amount. No more, no less.
That’s the very definition of the eleventh solar term in China. It is a scene straight from a fictional story. In China, we call this season “Minor Heat.”
Minor heat小暑 (Xiǎo Shǔ) is a season that signifies the hot season. It is the initial part of summer when everything is brisk, fresh, and cheerful. Such a season arrives when the sun reaches the celestial longitude of 105 degrees. Usually, it occurs every July 7 or 8.
Because the summer days have arrived, the tedious continuous rainfall season along the “Yangtze River” will soon stop. However, don’t be fooled by the initial freshness of this season. The hottest climate is yet to come.
In China, the people call this season the three “Fu.” It signifies that the weather will enter a scalding period where people better lie down than move. Minor heat is a part of these three “Fu.” It is the first period.
吃饺子 (chī jiǎo zi )，吃西瓜 (chī xī guā )
With the change of the season, so does the customs of people. One of the most popular ways to ease the heat is to eat dumplings and watermelon.
Dumpling is a Chinese staple. People often eat this during the celebration of a season or the opening of a specific climate. However, there’s a specific reason why people eat dumplings during Minor heat. That is because it acts as an appetite booster. During Minor heat, there’s what we call “dog day.” At this time, people often lose their palate for food. Fortunately, dumplings restore appetite and can refresh 唤起 people’s feelings toward food.
While eating dumplings is true for most regions in China, it does not apply to everyone. In the region of Suzhou, instead of eating dumplings, they eat lamb soup. Such a tradition is traceable to ancient times. In fact, such a practice has been fossilized in their culture that they formed an adage for it. It goes like, “One bowl of the lamb a day, keeps the doctors away.”
Apart from dumplings and lamb, people also love eating watermelon during this season. There are three necessities when trying to cope with Minor heat: Wifi, Airconditioning, and watermelon. During this time, the market is abundant with different watermelon species. Consequently, everybody becomes melon-eating masses “吃瓜群众.”
赏荷花 (shǎng hé huā)，看萤火虫 (kàn yíng huǒ chóng)
When everyone adapts to the heat, it is time for some sightseeing. Fortunately, Minor heat coincides with the blooming of lotus flowers. Consequently, people often hang out in parks with ponds to witness the simple yet elegant blossom of lotus flowers. From Minor Heat to the Double Ninth Festival, lotus blossom sightseeing remains a trend.
In addition to lotus blossoms, fireflies are also a sight to behold. Because of the heat, fireflies become lively. If you live in the countryside, you will see fireflies everywhere. They will seemingly be little stars weaving a summer night’s dream as they continue to illuminate the dark, humid night with their sparkling light.
Another benefit of light heat is having good temperatures. With the sun at its brightest, most people opt to hang their clothes outside.
The sun is a good anti-bacterial. It kills the bacteria in clothes that cause a moldy smell. Consequently, hanging clothes outside will give the clothes a blossoming fresh smell. Plus, the heat from the sun prevents mildew too!
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