The traditional Chinese lunar calendar divides the year into 24 solar terms. Grain Buds, (Chinese: Xiaoman), the 8th solar term of a year, begins on May 21 this year, and ends on June 5. It means that the seeds from the grain are becoming full but are not ripe.
In China, the 24 solar terms were created thousands of years ago to guide agricultural production. But the solar term culture is still useful today to guide people’s lives through special foods, cultural ceremonies, gardening and even healthy living tips that correspond with each solar term. Let’s see what we can do during the “Grain Buds” period.
A good season for eating fish
During the Grain Buds period, the summer harvest is about to begin. A saying about rain during this time mentions, “A heavy rainfall makes the river full.” Because of the great increase in rainfall, rivers are full of water, which makes fish and shrimp big and fat. This is a good time to eat fish and shrimp. It is also harvest season for fishermen.
A good season for eating mulberries
A Chinese farmer proverb says, “Mulberries become black during the Grain Buds period.” Thus it is a good season to eat mulberries.
Eating herb of common sow thistle
Grain Buds is a season for eating the herb of the common sow thistle, which is one of the earliest edible potherbs in China.
It tastes a little bitter and tart, but also sweet. It has the function of cooling the blood and detoxifying the body. It can be made into different types of dishes. People in Ningxia like to eat it blended with salt, vinegar, peppers or garlic. It tastes savory and helps people feel refreshed. Some people boil the herb with water and then squeeze out the juice, which can be used to make soup.
Tips on health preserving in Grain Buds
High temperatures and humidity are common during the Grain Buds period. The increase in temperature over this season may also give rise to nettle rash, rheumatism, sweat spots, eczema and other skin diseases.
It is also important to exercise to keep healthy during the hot summer days. Walking, jogging and practicing tai chi are popular.
Key period for flower management
This time is a good period of the quick growth of flowers. It is also a season when plant diseases and pests are at an all-time high, which makes growing flowers even more critical.
Flower trimming and clipping is important. And a systematic fertilized water system should be carried out. Flowers need a lot of water and extra care to ensure the plants remain healthy. Weeding should be done as they grow quickly and have to be extirpated in order to keep the soil loose and from competing with the flowers for nutrients.
Celebrating silkworm deity birthday
Silkworm rearing is a traditional byproduct for people in regions south of the Yangtze River. During the Grain Buds season, silkworms have cocooned. People begin to cook cocoons and prepare the spinning wheel for reeling silk.
People in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces regard this season as the birthday of the silkworm deity. Those who engage in the silk industry thank the deity by offering sacrifices and staging performances. They pray to the deity for blessings and a boom season for the silk business.