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China's 24 solar terms - Xiaoshu

06 / 7 / 2024

Xiaoshu, one of the 24 Solar Terms in traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar, marks the beginning of the hottest period of the year. It falls around July 7th or 8th each year, when the sun reaches the celestial longitude of 105° and the earth is positioned at the peak of its proximity to the sun in the Northern Hemisphere. Xiaoshu, literally meaning "Lesser Heat," signifies a transition from the mild heat of early summer to the intense heat of midsummer.
During Xiaoshu, the temperature continues to rise, often accompanied by periods of heavy rain or thunderstorms, creating a unique climate known as "plum rains" in some regions of China, particularly in the Yangtze River basin. This humidity and heat combined can be quite oppressive, leading to an increase in the consumption of cooling foods and beverages, such as iced tea, green bean soup, and watermelon, to help alleviate the discomfort.
Agriculturally, Xiaoshu is a crucial time for farmers. Crops like rice and corn are entering their rapid growth phases, requiring close attention to irrigation and pest control. It is also the time for sowing some late-season crops and preparing for the harvest of early vegetables and fruits.
In addition to its agricultural significance, Xiaoshu carries cultural and customary implications. In many parts of China, people observe various customs and traditions to celebrate or cope with the onset of the hot weather. For instance, some regions hold temple fairs or festivals to pray for good weather and abundant harvests, while others engage in activities like dragon boat races or eating special dishes to mark the occasion.
Overall, Xiaoshu embodies the transition from the mild to the sweltering heat of summer, reflecting both the challenges and opportunities of this time of year for nature and humanity alike.

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