Midsummer is Here: Preparing for Lesser Heat in the 24 Solar Terms

Midsummer is Here: Preparing for Lesser Heat in the 24 Solar Terms

As we bask in the warm embrace of midsummer, we are approaching one of the significant markers in the traditional Chinese calendar: Lesser Heat, or "Xiao Shu" (小暑), which will arrive in just two days. This period, known as one of the 24 solar terms, signifies the gradual increase in temperature and the height of summer's intensity. Let's explore what Lesser Heat entails, the climatic changes it brings, traditional customs, and how to maintain a healthy diet during this time.

What is Lesser Heat?

Lesser Heat is the 11th solar term in the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar, signaling the onset of hot summer days. Despite being called "Lesser Heat," the period often brings significant warmth, preparing us for the peak temperatures that come with the following solar term, Greater Heat. This term typically falls between July 6 and 22, marking a time when the sun’s power is at its zenith, and the days are long and bright.

Climate Change

During Lesser Heat, the climate undergoes noticeable changes. The days become increasingly hotter, often marked by periods of heavy rainfall and thunderstorms. This time is critical for agricultural activities, as crops require sufficient water and protection from potential heat stress. The humidity levels rise, and the environment can become stifling, making it essential for people to adapt their lifestyle and diet accordingly.

Chinese Traditional Customs

The arrival of Lesser Heat is celebrated with various traditional customs that have been passed down through generations. These customs are deeply rooted in agricultural practices and cultural beliefs, reflecting the community's way of coping with the summer heat and ensuring a good harvest.

1.Offering Sacrifices on the Dog Days: The "Dog Days" (伏天) refer to the hottest periods of summer. During these days, people traditionally offer sacrifices to deities and ancestors to pray for protection from the heat and good health.

2.Drying Scriptures: Another unique custom involves drying scriptures in the sun. This practice is believed to prevent mold and decay caused by the humid weather, ensuring the longevity and preservation of sacred texts.

3.Cooking Wheat Kernel Soup for Cattle: In agricultural communities, cooking wheat kernel soup for cattle is a common practice. This nourishing soup helps keep the livestock healthy and strong during the hot and humid days of Lesser Heat.

Folk Food Customs

Food plays a vital role in celebrating Lesser Heat, with various traditional dishes that are believed to help cool the body and provide necessary nutrients during the hot days.

1.Eating Dumplings: Dumplings are a beloved dish during Lesser Heat, symbolizing good luck and prosperity. They are often enjoyed with a variety of fillings, providing a hearty and satisfying meal.

2.Eating Dog Days Lamb: Consuming lamb during the Dog Days is thought to replenish the body's yang energy. This custom helps balance the body’s internal heat and supports overall health.

3.Eating Soup Noodles: Soup noodles, especially those with light broths, are a popular choice. They are easy to digest and help keep the body hydrated.

4.Eating Water Noodles and Fried Noodles: These noodle dishes are often served cold or at room temperature, making them refreshing options during the hot days. They can be accompanied by various vegetables and proteins, offering a balanced and cooling meal.

Diet and Health

During Lesser Heat, it is crucial to pay attention to diet and health to combat the intense heat and maintain overall well-being. Here are some dietary tips to follow:

1.Eat Light: Focus on light and easily digestible foods to avoid overburdening the digestive system. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins are excellent choices.

2.Less Spicy and Greasy: Reduce the intake of spicy and greasy foods, as they can increase body heat and cause discomfort.

3.Eat Less Cold Food: While it might be tempting to consume cold foods and drinks, excessive cold intake can harm the digestive system. Opt for room temperature or slightly cool foods instead.

By understanding the significance of Lesser Heat and incorporating these traditional customs and dietary practices, we can better navigate the challenges of midsummer. Embrace the cultural richness and wisdom passed down through generations to enjoy a healthy and harmonious Lesser Heat period.

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