According to the Chinese lunar calendar, today marks the beginning of fall as 立秋 descends upon us at 4:20PM China Standard Time. The 13th of the 24 solar terms (二十四节气), liqiu is a time for fall-arriving customs such as 贴秋膘 (tiē qiū biāo, Adding Autumn Fat) and 咬秋 (yǎo qiū, Autumn Bites). For Northern China, 立秋凉风至, with liqiu arrives cool breezes. For Southern China, 秋后一伏热死人, only after the final stage of the three hottest periods (三伏) will the heat dial down. As autumn arrives, leaves of the Chinese parasol trees start to fall. Hence the chengyu 落一叶而知秋 (luò yī yè ér zhī qiū), the fall of one leave makes known the arrival of fall.
With the fall of liqiu, comes a series of Chinese traditional holidays: the Chinese Valentine’s Day, the Ghost Festival, and Mid-Autumn Festival.
Qixi, the Chinese Valentine’s Day is the seventh of July according to the Chinese lunar calendar, and falls on August 13 this year. The story of Qixi is “A Tale of Astral Amour“, where two legendary lovers get to realize their annual reunion on the Milky Way. Prepare yourself with the knowledge of these 6 Qixi traditions.
The Ghost Festival, sometimes referred to as the Hungry Ghost Festival or Zhongyuan Festival, is the 15th of July according to the lunar calendar. This year, gates of Hell open on August 21st. The King of Hell 阎王 will order for these gates to open, and allow the hungry ghosts and wandering ghosts to temporarily roam the earth, so they can enjoy the food and offerings. People burn hell money on the street, make offerings for their ancestors, and release paper boats along rivers. This is one of the days where Chinese maintain many superstitious beliefs, so observe these rituals lest you get haunted or cursed by a hungry ghost.
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also called the Moon festival, is the annual holiday where families reunite and snack on moon cakes bathed in moonlight. Parents tell their children of the legendary Chang’e, who has been trapped on the moon dwelling in eternal solitude. This is the only day when her husband can come visit her once a year. Here are some ideas for you to celebrate the festival on September 19 this year.
The end of summer and beginning of autumn is the short period of time when red dates are sold fresh on the market. Grab fresh dates while you can, for soon you will only be able to buy dried red dates.
Image courtesy of huofar.