Culture - 大暑(Dàshǔ): Keeping Healthy in the Hotness

from feel of China

As a Chinese saying goes, 三伏天(sān fú tiān) - Sanfu days - are blistering hot. 大暑(Dàshǔ) - Dashu, or Greater Heat - generally comes during the middle phase of Sanfu days (or the dog days of the summer).
China locates in the northern hemisphere. When the Sun is at the celestial longitude of 120°, usually in a day between July 22 and 24, most parts of China will enter the hottest season of the year: Dashu. In 2020, Dashu starts on July 22 and ends on August 07.
Dashu is the 12th solar term of the year. The ancient Chinese divided a year into 24 parts marked with 24 solar term days - 24 节气(jieqi). As one of the UN Intangible Cultural Heritages, the 24 Solar Terms earned its reputation as the Fifth Great Invention of China. The 24 Solar Terms has been put to use in China for more than 2000 years, starting around the Qin and Han Dynasties.
As the time system sanctioned by ancient Chinese governments, the 24 Solar Terms was also a guide to agricultural activities of the old days. Precisely reflecting on the changes of seasons and thanks to its guidance of agricultural activities, the 24 Solar Terms still affect the daily lives of millions of ordinary Chinese people today.
During the Dashu period, there is little temperature variation across China. Dashu also witnesses the most frequent occurrence of high temperature in most parts of China, generally between 35℃ to 40℃. Meanwhile, it is the time for thermophilic crops to grow fast.
In both north China and northeast China, Dashu usually coincides with rainfall increase. In the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, however, Dashu generally witnesses reduced rainfall and even drought. Therefore, during the Dashu period, farmers along the Yangtze River are advised to harvest and planting in a rush.
Dashu is also a busy season for such agricultural activities like maintaining drought mitigation facilities or the drainage. Nevertheless, the Chinese people are still capable of finding leisure in this busy season. They organize all kinds of folk activities to express their rosy hope for a better life during the ferociously hot season.
The 24 Solar Terms is a perfect combination of the knowledge of astronomy, agriculture, phenology, and the folklore. It gave rise to numerous Solar Terms-related cultures, which became significant components of the traditional culture of the Chinese nation.
Dashu is renowned for the folklore surrounding food habits, which generally fall into two types: one is the heat-relieving cold food. Hsian-Tsao of Guangdong and pineapple of Taiwan are typical examples here; the other is the hot food. For example, people of Putian in Fujian Province love to eat lychee, mutton, and rice dregs. People in the middle and northern parts of Hu’nan Province choose to eat spring chicken. People in southeastern Hu’nan province, however, have a habit to eat ginger during the Dashu period. As a local saying goes, eating radish in winter and ginger in summer keeps the doctor away forever.
The Chinese have some tips to keep healthy during the Dashu period. For example, in the popular Traditional Chinese Medicine healthcare practices, there is a saying about 冬病夏治(dōnɡ bìnɡ xià zhì), meaning that people should take some precautions in the summer to prevent some diseases which may break out in winter.
People are advised to sweat from drinking the hot water of walking to bring out harmful elements accumulated in the bodies so that they can keep healthy in the autumn and winter seasons. People should replenish water for the body during the summer season, but they are instructed to stay away from iced drinks or foods, which tend to accumulate the cold air in the body. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, symptoms in the winter season like cold intolerance or cold feet are results of inattentive life habits in the summer season.
During the Dashu period, inappetence is a common problem for a lot of people. People are advised to eat some heat-relieving porridges like the mung bean and lily porridge or Job's tears seed and bean porridge. All these food materials have the health benefits of replenishing the inner energy, relieving the heat, and nourishing the spleen and stomach. By observing astronomical phenomena and everything around them, our ancestors invented the 24 Solar Terms more than 2000 years ago, which provides invaluable guidance to the daily life of ordinary Chinese.
Today, the Chinese folklore and customs associated with the Dashu period are becoming increasingly popular across the globe. In this process, more and more people are getting enthusiastic about the Chinese ways to keep in good health.
Words related:
1. 节气 (jiéqi):  the Chinese solar term
2.  养生(yǎnɡshēnɡ): to keep healthy
3.  三伏天(sānfú tiān): refers to the hottest days in a year. While 三九天(sān jiǔ tiān) refers to the coldest days in a year.
4. 大暑(dàshǔ): Dashu, literally means big summer heat, is the 12th solar term of the year.
5. 冬病夏治(dōnɡ bìnɡ xià zhì): literally "winter disease is treated in summer", means that people should take some precautions in the summer to prevent some diseases which may break out in winter.

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